MANILA, Philippines - The Malaysian government yesterday gave assurance that it would cooperate with the Philippines in efforts to return to Manila wanted investment scam boss Manuel Amalilio.
The assurance was contained in a letter to The STAR from the Malaysian embassy’s first secretary Yap Wei Sin.
Amalilio, who also carried the Malaysian name Mohammad Suffan Saaid, was arrested by local authorities in Kota Kinabalu on Jan. 25 and was formally charged on Feb. 4 for possession of a fake passport.
Amalilio pleaded guilty to the offense and was meted a two-year prison term in Malaysia. Manila has invoked a mutual legal assistance treaty for his return to the Philippines.
Yin wrote to The STAR in connection with three articles written by columnist Jarius Bondoc.
In his articles titled “Beware: Crooked Malaysian Politicos Protecting Amalilio;” “Amalilio, A Nephew of Sabah Minister” and “Blood Ties Or None, Just Deport Conman” which came out in The STAR on Feb. 1, 2 and 4, respectively, Bondoc accused the Malaysian government, specifically the state of Sabah, of harboring Amalilio.
Sin denied Bondoc’s accusation, saying
Sin pointed out that the Attorney General of Malaysia, after a meeting with Philippine Justice undersecretary Jose Salazar last Feb. 6, ordered authorities to check and freeze the assets of Amalilio and his associates.
He said the government of Malaysia received the official request of the Philippines for Mutual Legal Assistance in criminal matters to extradite the pyramid scam mastermind.
He said the Attorney General was fully committed to assist in Amalilio’s prosecution regardless of his citizenship.
Sin said there was no proof that Amalilio is an immediate relative of Sabah chief minister Musa Aman and his brother Anifah Aman, the minister of Foreign Affairs.
He denied Bondoc’s allegations that the prime minister of Malaysia, Najib Tun Abdul Razak, received kickbacks from the purchase of submarines.
He also clarified the issue on citizenship in Sabah as raised by The STAR’s columnist. He said there is an ongoing investigation on the influx of illegal immigrants in Sabah, and it is not proper for his government to prematurely comment on the matter.
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has created a four-man team to coordinate with the Malaysian government for the extradition of Amalilio.
De Lima said the team would be composed of two members of the special panel handling the syndicated estafa cases against Amalilio, et al, and two state counsels also from the DOJ.
She designated Prosecutor General Claro Arellano and Chief State Counsel Ricardo Paras III to appoint the team’s members.
The team is specifically tasked to hand over the formal request for extradition and supplemental request involving the freezing of assets of Amalilio and other forms of assistance.
De Lima said the team would be dispatched to Malaysia hopefully next week. She said succeeding trips might be needed until the process is completed.
The DOJ chief explained that after initiating the extradition process, they would focus on securing the assets of Amalilio so it can be used in the cases against him, and possibly in paying his victims.
She also ordered agents to proceed with the hunt for relatives of another scam leader Jachob Rasuman, who were said to be involved in his multi-million investment fraud.
She said authorities might now enforce the arrest warrants issued against Rasuman’s wife Princess, his father and former public works undersecretary Basher Sr., mother Ema, brothers Basher Jr., Jeremiah and Jerome, and father-in-law Sultan Yahya Jerry Tomawis.
This after the Cagayan de Oro court lifted the suspension of the enforcement of the arrest warrant owing to the appeal of the accused.
“Initially the court suspended the implementation of the warrants because of the pendency of the MR (motion for reconsideration of resolution approving the syndicated estafa cases) with the DOJ. It was promptly denied by the panel of prosecutors so the court reconsidered its earlier order suspending the arrest,” the DOJ chief told reporters.
For this purpose, De Lima said the NBI has already created a special team to track down the fugitives. - With Edu Punay