Marcos loot traced to ex-bikini model

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc -
In mid-1971 a scandal rocked Malacañang. Ferdinand Marcos, then in his second year of reelection, was headlined to be having an affair with Hollywood actress Dovie Beams. A tape recording landed in the hands of the opposition, purportedly of Marcos crooning Pamu-linawen to the B-movie star after a night of passion in a resort somewhere. Giggling and smoo-ching punctuated each line of the Ilocano folk song. The recorder allegedly had been placed under the love bed by persons unknown. About that time Congress was wrapping up an inquiry into Sen. Ninoy Aquino’s exposé of the Jabidah Massacre of conscripts from Sulu who secretly were being trained to invade Sabah. A constitutional convention also was under way to rewrite the 1935 Commonwealth Charter. The delegates were resisting pressure from Malacañang to lift the Presidency’s two-term limit. A year later Marcos would declare martial law and rule for life.

That is the backdrop for recent court findings in Switzerland about the Marcos wealth. But there’s an interesting twist. Soon after news of the love affair hit the streets Marcos broke up with Beams. A month later, according to records made public with the partial easing of Swiss bank secrecy laws, Marcos began transferring funds to another sex kitten. That was Evelin Hegyesi, at that time a bikini model in Sydney who once graced the pages of Playboy. The mention of Hegyesi’s name, and that of her Austraphil company, set the Australian Sun-Herald sniffing on the trail and coming out with an exclusive report.

Hegyesi is now 57, a multimillionaire who lives in Sydney’s suburb by the sea called Point Piper and owner of several investment firms. She hails from Hungary and had migrated to Australia with her parents as a toddler. She started modelling mink swimwear when she was 19, and bore a child at 23. That was the same age she set up Austraphil Pty Ltd, which allegedly received deposits from a Marcos front "foundation" in Zurich. The fund transfers began when Hegyesi was pregnant with her Eurasian daughter named Analisa Josefa. Josefa is the name of Marcos’s mother, the Sun-Herald notes. Analisa now lives with Dean Fleming, scion of a wealthy racing and fruit markets family, in a $4.5-million beachfront mansion in Darling Point. She recently had a baby named Tahni. Marcos, deposed in 1986, died in Hawaii in 1989.

The Sun-Herald had obtained a thick dossier linking Hegyesi’s firms to secret Marcos accounts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein amounting to billions of dollars. Buried in the maze of documents is a 1971 reference to Austraphil as the "sole and only beneficiary" of one of the accounts, called Azio Foundation. Azio had appeared prominently in earlier investigations by the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

In 1971 Austraphil bought a five-bedroom mansion in Point Piper’s ritziest end for $210,000 ($1.8 million in today’s money). Land titles and annual reports showed that Austraphil had a loan back then of $250,000 ($2 million today) from a Swiss firm called Finanz AG of Zurich. It was a subsidiary of the Swiss SKA Bank, now called Credit Suisse, the main depository for Marcos’s front accounts, going by PCGG findings. Other Marcos foundations with accounts in Swiss SKA, according to the Sun-Herald dossier, were Charis, Avertina, Vibur and Valamo. It was not clear if these foundations had sexy stars or models of the ’70s as beneficiaries.

A Zurich court investigation "found (that) millions of dollars came from illegal sources," Sun-Herald reports. "It revealed Finanz AG Zurich was frequently used by Marcos to distribute money from his personal accounts so it could not be traced."

Marcos had set up Azio foundation in June 1971 with 100,000 Swiss francs ($1.8 million today). In Nov. that year he signed documents making Austraphil the sole beneficiary of Azio. That lasted up to Dec. 1972, based on the Swiss court documents that Sun-Herald obtained. Marcos then changed the Azio beneficiary to another of his foundations, Charis. "After this point," the paper says, "bank records disappeared."

Still, Hegyesi paid off Austraphil’s Swiss loan for the Point Piper mansion in 1976, and transferred the title to her name. She sold it in 1999 for $6.2 million, and moved into a nearby apartment she bought for $1.48 million. From 1972 Hegyesi also set up several trading, investment and cattle firms, some with loans also from Finanz AG.

The Sun-Herald dossier also shows that, between 1982 and 1985, Marcos’s Vibur foundation sent several transfers totalling $200,000 ($700,000 today) to Credit Suisse-Hong Kong marked "Vienna/Sydney". Quoting court documents, Sun-Herald reports: "This money was obviously destined for Evelin Hegyesi in Sydney and Anita Langheinz in Vienna." The paper did not explain who Langheinz is.

In 1982 Marcos’s Vibur made several payments to an account at the Bank of New South Wales, now known as WestPac. Again quoting court papers, Sun-Herald says: "As shown in the ongoing instructions, there were regular transfers of money which obviously went to Evelin Hegyesi... The same Vibur foundation account paid some administrative costs and payments in Australian dollars to the SKA bank subsidiary Finanz AG."

It is not clear how Hegyesi came to be connected to Marcos. There is no naughty tape recording of a drunken serenade, no headline of a ’70s love affair. But the Sun-Herald dossier appears solid enough for the PCGG to look into the Australian connection. The Sun-Herald reports, from court findings, that "Marcos siphoned $23 million ($169 million in today’s money) from Japan’s war reparations into Charis." Hunters of Marcos’s wealth believe he had made more than that from kickbacks, bribes and direct theft from government coffers.
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