Too many fake certificates and ‘fake’ sons, too - BY THE WAY by Max V. Soliven
() - April 23, 2001 - 12:00am
Don’t you think it’s disgraceful that a former Chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in New York City in a sting operation? Ex-PCGG Chief David Castro – an appointee, mind you, of the allegedly squeaky-clean and saintly Cory administration – was caught by the Feds in flagrante while allegedly helping a certain Edilberto Marcos (who claimed to be an illegitimate son of the late President Ferdinand Marcos) sell an FBI agent, posing as a buyer, a $20 million share of a gold certificate from a Swiss bank.

The certificate, like the poseur who claimed to be Macoy’s son, turned out to be fake as well.

Those Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) gold certificates must be as numerous as mushrooms – just as there seem to be too many "illegitimate sons" of the late Apo Ferdie. The way "sons" of Macoy are popping out of the woodwork, FM will end up having more sons from different moms than Erap.

I remember an encounter some eight years ago when a friend engaged in buy-and-sell and real estate brought a fellow to my home who also claimed to be an "illegitimate son" of Marcos. I wondered how he could get away with that deception (didn’t believe his story one minute) since he looked like the BBC computerized version of Jesus Christ, or better, a cross between Jeffrey Schilling and Bob Sobrepeña.

In any event, this supposed "Marcos son" showed me a sheaf of genuine-looking certificates of gold bullion allegedly coming from the same UBS or Union de Banques Suisses. The watermarks looked legit, the printing appeared kosher. The stamps and signatures looked terrific. But there was something wrong with them. The documents were worded in German and French, and I noticed some misspellings of words in both languages. Now, everybody knows that German, French, Italian, and one unique Swiss dialect spoken by one percent, are the official languages of Switzerland’s 20 cantons (confedérés) and six half-cantons. So, how could the UBS certificate printers have misspelled any words in German or French? This is particularly so since the headquarters of UBS, the largest Swiss bank, are located on Bahnhofstrasse in the German-speaking city of Zurich, a boulevard which, if not exactly paved with gold, contains underground vaults underneath it literally packed solid with gold.

In any event, that UBS certificate being passed off by "Edilberto" Marcos and his partner David Castro must have come from the same printing press as the documents showed me by that earlier fake Marcos. I shooed the illegitimate Macoy II and his counterfeit certificates out of my place pronto on the day he came calling – but perhaps others may not have been as suspicious since, to my amazement, the same racket is going on, alive and well, eight years later!

P.T. Barnum was right when he said, "There’s one born every minute."

What proves Barnum’s point, in addition, is the notorious Nigerian "oil" scam which has been going around the world victimizing even the most astute and sober people for decades. I exposed the Nigerian scam in this column several times, in fact every four years since 1988, but the scam just keeps rolling on. Last week I received a note from a reader saying she had just received a Nigerian scam letter only this month! They simply keep trying. And, often, the swindlers succeed.
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It’s unfortunate that a former PCGG Chairman got involved with the likes of this Edilberto M. Marcos, who passes himself off as the President and CEO of Metro Grant Holdings Ltd., with offices in Unit 2602 Hongkong Convention Plaza Office Tower, 1 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong. (This building is right beside the Grand Hyatt Hotel, known to many Filipinos.)

According to a complaint "advisory" sent by Ricardo A. Diaz, chief, Interpol Division in Hong Kong to the Manila Interpol office in the National Bureau of Investigation, this Edilberto Marcos Marcos (that’s what the M stands for) holds Philippine Passport No. EE835334. Interpol revealed that he also utilized other names, e.g. Edilberto Marcos del Carmen and Alberto Malanum Puzon.

Interpol Hong Kong avers that it received a complaint filed by a certain Nakanishi Takamasa, a Japanese, regarding "financial fraud" (swindling). Takamasa and his group complained that they "were lured by Marcos to invest in a ‘roll program project’ dealing in the trading of gold between Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Philippines in the total amount of US$1 million." The project, Diaz said, "turned out to be spurious."

This Edilberto M. Marcos, it seems, also claims to be a lawyer, but Jose Aguila Grapilon, chairman of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, appears to have issued a certification dated March 8, 1999, that the name Edilberto Marcos or Edilberto del Carmen did not appear in the list of IBP membership.

As for Mr. Castro, who headed the PCGG from 1990 to 1992, if you’ll recall, he was actively involved – aside from his duties – in gold hunting activities. As I’ve said in a previous column, there’s something about gold or buried treasure that drives men mad.

In any event, there have been many ranking PCGG officials who engaged in questionable activities, which tends to give the public a general idea of what the PCGG is all about – a gravy train for the "favored." Join the PCGG or become a PCGG nominee, as the common wisdom goes, and you’re guaranteed "success."
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With Castro and Marcos nabbed in New York, do you think that’s the end of it? Our name is mud in Thailand, too.

My wife – who has been in Bangkok for the past three days for conferences with our Thai agricultural associates in a hybrid "agri" project of the O.B. Montessori Farm before flying on to an international congress in Athens, Greece – phoned me last night to say that Filipinos in Thailand are embarrassed. Almost every hour on the hour on Thai television the past two days there had been reports about two Filipinos, one Thai and one Singaporean under arrest for trying to peddle counterfeit debt papers.

Thai police have grabbed counterfeit US bonds with a purported face value of $24.7 billions from a bank vault in Bangkok, while Deputy National Police Chief Sant Sarutamond has been telling reporters they are looking for four other foreign suspects belonging to the gang.

The fake documents and bonds probably tie in with the billions of dollars of non-existent US bonds and stock documents which were seized months ago in Gingoog, Misamis Oriental, and other points in Mindanao and the Visayas. US Chargé d’Affaires Michael Malinowski, who guested on our Greenhills Walking Corporation forum last Wednesday, had even explained in answer to a question from the floor that the "bonds" and security "documents" which have been discovered in the Philippines in the past year and a half have been "fakes of fakes." In short, the counterfeiters printed, on aged and authentic-appearing paper, specimens of US and other international bonds that never existed. Once again, P.T. Barnum’s sucker-a-minute theory has been proven right.

The credibility of Thailand’s new Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra – who’s supposed to be business-savvy since he’s a multibillion-baht telecommunications and IT mogul in private life – was severely dented by the fake bond scandal which has captured the imagination of the Thais. His reputation was further damaged when he flew to the site of an alleged "gold find" involving what was touted as a hoard of tons of gold and foreign bonds buried in a cave near the Myanmar (Burma) border. A controversial (some say "crackpot") Thai senator named Choawarin Latthasaksiri maintained that the loot had been stashed away by Japanese soldiers during World War II and was worth about $50 billion.

Thaksin bit the bait and even quipped that the "find" would be enough to meet Thailand’s $62 billion national debt. To his chagrin, it was later discovered that Senator Chaowarin had never entered the cave himself nor personally viewed the alleged find. All the "evidence", it turned out, he could produce were photocopies of US bonds which were recognized to be clumsy fakes – did he get them from the so-called Edilberto Marcos gang?

Incidentally, the controversial cave is not far from the famous Bridge on the River Kwai (remember the movie with Alec Guinness, Bill Holden, and Ralph Hawkins which produced the popular The Colonel Bogey March).
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I’m told that among the schemes of Edilberto Marcos or Del Carmen is the tall tale that when the Marcoses fled Malacañang, along the items spirited out of the Palace were boxes of 1934 US dollar bills and other instruments. To make the story ring true, Del Carmen surrounds himself with active or inactive military personnel who, he maintains, were the ones who whisked those dollars and bonds out of the Palace in 1986. He has allegedly been "selling" the idea that these boxes can be redeemed from these military men for a trustee "fee", promising that the returns on investment would be "around US$100 million per box." Glory be! Do people actually believe such stories? They apparently do.

Another scam is "letter of credit discounting." The fellow exhibits exotic-looking letters of credit for big ticket projects (such as construction and energy) in – hold your breath – the former Russian Republic of Georgia (Stalin’s home province in the old Soviet Union), as well as the People’s Republic of China. The so-called L/Cs "represent" several billion dollars worth of projects, he underscores. Since these are generally divided into US$50 million compartments, he entices the victim to put up the peso or dollar equivalent of whatever percentage he says is the insurance cost of an insurance swap already pre-arranged, he winks, with Lloyds of London. It seems that P10 million has already been "collected" from willing suckers for these L/Cs which were, when checked, described as "rubbish L/Cs" by a reputable German bank.

The embezzler also claims, as the "eldest son" of Marcos to have "frozen accounts" with Citibank, Hongkong Shanghai Bank (HSBC), Sanwa Bank, and other institutions. He has been enticing holders of US dollar accounts to transfer their valuta or hard cash to his designated bank in his name in exchange for profitable guarantees to be issued by his banks. The victim "bites" when, in connivance with certain bank officials, the accounts are "confirmed."

There are also "real estate" scams and a ploy described as "hostaging certificates and assets." In the latter scheme, investigators suspect, he has already racked up US$300 million in "hostaged" assets. I won’t try to explain how this goes since I don’t understand it myself.

However, it’s clear that, like all successful swindlers, Elder Son Marcos or whateverhisname is a smooth talker, a svengali of financial doublespeak. Why, he even passes himself off as a CIA agent – and I don’t mean "Certified Ilocano Agent."

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