U.S. Indicts Marcos, Wife on Racketeering Charges
Former Philippines President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his wife and Saudi Arabian financier Adnan Khashoggi were indicted Friday in a quarter-billion-dollar racketeering scheme, accused of using embezzled Philippines public funds to buy prime Manhattan properties.
Marcos, as a former head-of-state, is the highest-ranking foreign government official ever indicted in the United States, U.S. Atty. Rudolph Giuliani said.
President Reagan’s spokesman, Marlin Fitzwater, said that if many of Marcos’ alleged crimes had not occurred after his Hawaiian exile began in 1986 there likely would have been no indictments.
“The President is saddened because Marcos is an old friend personally and an old friend of the country’s,” Fitzwater added.
Altogether seven people and a California bank were indicted in the racketeering complaint.
The 79-page indictment said between 1972 and the present, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, aided by five others and California Overseas Bank, “did embezzle, steal, purloin and divert to their personal use and the use of others certain Philippine government funds.”
The defendants are accused of transferring $103 million in illegally obtained funds into the United States to purchase four buildings in New York and “defrauding U.S. financial institutions of $165 million” in buying the midtown and downtown Manhattan buildings, which now are worth at least $300 million.
Millions of dollars in “bribes, kickbacks and gratuities in the form of cash payments and corporate stocks” were accepted by the defendants and secreted in numbered accounts in Swiss and other banks, the indictment said.
“This indictment emphasizes that a dictator may not fleece his people, deposit his loot in the United States and get away with it,” said Morton Stavis, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, who represents the Philippines government in civil suits against the Marcoses claiming billions of dollars.
Ordered to Court
The defendants were ordered to appear Oct. 31 before Manhattan District Judge John Keenan.
“If they don’t comply with the order of the court, they will be arrested like any other person,” Giuliani said. “It is usual in white-collar crimes to permit surrender. We decided they should be treated no worse or no better than anyone else.”
The 34-count indictment, brought under the federal Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, was handed up in U.S. District Court in Manhattan and unsealed by Giuliani at a news conference.
Marcos, 71, and his wife, Imelda, 59, who moved to Hawaii after being ousted by a “people-power” revolution in February, 1986, both were charged with four RICO counts and, if convicted, each faces a maximum of 50 years in prison and fines totaling $1 million.
Contra Scandal Figure
Khashoggi, 53, one of the world’s richest men and a key figure in the Iran-Contra scandal, allegedly helped to conceal the Marcoses’ interests in the real estate by using false documents, which were submitted in U.S. District Court in what prosecutors alleged was a fraudulent effort to show that Marcos acquired an interest in them before the court barred him from doing so.
Khashoggi is charged with six RICO counts and faces as much as 65 years in prison and fines of $1.5 million.
“Mr. Khashoggi vehemently denies that he knowingly violated any U.S. law in connection with any dealings he had with Mr. and Mrs. Marcos,” said Robert Morvillo, Khashoggi’s attorney.
Also named in the indictment were the former Philippines ambassador to the Vatican, Bienvenido Tantoco Sr.; his wife, Gliceri Tantoco, who was president of Rustans department store in the Philippines; California Overseas Bank and its chairman, Robert Benedicto, and its former president, Rodolfo Arambulo.
In Washington, Atty. Gen. Dick Thornburgh called the charges “serious” and noted that under RICO prosecutions he is authorized to return forfeited assets to victims, including the Philippine government.
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