Withdrawal of crony funds puzzles PCGG
() - August 22, 2002 - 12:00am
How were a Marcos associate and two other people able to withdraw $17 million from three frozen accounts in various banks in Switzerland without authorities knowing about it?

It remains a puzzle to the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) how former energy minister Geronimo Velasco, his nephew Alfredo de Borja, and his secretary Carmencita Clavecilla succeeded in going around the freeze order of the Zurich District Attorney.

Velasco’s bank account reportedly contained $15,519,972; De Borja’s, $921,532; and Clavecilla was said to have $555,544 in her account.

PCGG Commissioner Ruben Carranza Jr. said yesterday they are drafting a letter to ask the Zurich Assistant District Attorney how the money was allowed to be withdrawn.

Reports said the withdrawals were made after Zurich District Attorney Diether Jann lifted the freeze order last March after the prescription period had lapsed.

The Philippine government was said to have failed to vigorously pursue the forfeiture of the funds.

However, Carranza said in a telephone interview the Zurich District Attorney had given them 30 days to appeal the decision before the order would be lifted.

"We were able to file an appeal on time so why should the UBP allow the withdrawal if there is a pending appeal?" he said.

Carranza said Jann lifted the freeze order after Velasco, De Borja and Clavecilla appealed and presented papers showing former Ombudsman Aniano Desierto had dismissed the criminal cases against them.

"The reason why the accounts were unfrozen is because of the dismissal by the Ombudsman of the criminal cases," he said. "Out of the nine cases against them, six were dismissed."

Carranza said the lifting of the freeze order could not affect the $670 million deposited in three escrow accounts at the Philippine National Bank in Manila.

"I don’t think it will affect the PNB deposits," he said. "It’s the Swiss Federal Supreme Court that ordered (the money) transferred (from Switzerland to the PNB). There is no relation." –Sheila Crisostomo

CARMENCITA CLAVECILLA CARRANZA COMMISSIONER RUBEN CARRANZA JR. DE BORJA DE BORJA AND CLAVECILLA GERONIMO VELASCO GOOD GOVERNMENT OMBUDSMAN ANIANO DESIERTO PHILIPPINE NATIONAL BANK ZURICH DISTRICT ATTORNEY
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