Do the Imee Marcos template
Sen. Leila de Lima’s lawyer says more names will be added to her list of bullies to be covered by the United States’ Global Magnitsky Act.
Who are in peril of being on the list? There are those who see the possibility it will expand with some senators, more congressmen, and then the nine Supreme Court justices who voted to keep her in jail (Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Samuel Martires, Noel Tijam, Andres Reyes Jr., Alexander Gesmundo).
Unguarded primary reactions of the “Magnitsky candidates” were a failure at hiding jitters. “Shock and awe,” said Philippine journalist giant Luis Teodoro, and the specter ahead seems to be not just the travel ban. Our politicians have long been known to stash US bank accounts and properties, thanks to people’s pork. “Once frozen, those assets will be inaccessible anywhere on the planet,” he explained. Although bought from his boxing ring earnings, Manny Pacquiao’s Beverly Hills mansion ($12.5 million in 2015), among other assets he has in the United States, will be an interesting case. Once frozen, he will be denied access to its seven bedrooms, eight baths and home theater. Speaking as though puppet strings were pulling him, Pacquiao was the one tasked to announce on the Senate floor De Lima’s ouster as chair of the Senate’s justice committee in September 2016.Politicians and public officials in fear of a Magnistky freeze of assets had better move their bank accounts and sell properties pronto. They can ask Imee Marcos to give them a quick but comprehensive seminar on what to do before these freeze in permafrost. Why Imee? Her expertise is offshore banking.
In 2013, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) uncovered financial records that showed Imee as one of the beneficiaries of Sintra Trust, money deposited in the British Virgin Islands in June 2002. Take note this was 16 years after their ouster by people power, which means the Marcoses persisted with their thieving even after the whole world had known of their hidden skeletons of ill-gotten wealth.
Aside from Imee, Sintra’s beneficiaries included her three adult sons by Tommy Manotoc. As late as 2010, records showed active banking movements. Imee was also listed as Sintra’s financial advisor, also for another company called ComCentre Corporation that identified Sintra as shareholder. ComCentre was formed in January 2002 also in the British Virgin Islands. Documents revealed that as “financial advisor,” she had “powers to direct the investment of trust assets held by banks and other financial institutions,” said the ICIJ report.
One Sintra document showed transactions with United Overseas Bank Limited of Singapore, our Asean neighbor albeit a country known to have one of the toughest banking secrecy regulations in the world.
“Fruit never falls far from the tree. Like parents, like daughter,” said Rene Saguisag. Sintra in fact showed parallel patterns with previous Marcos foundations set up in Liechtenstein in the 1970s. These offshore entities were set up with the aid of lawyers who are experts on secret tax havens, ensuring that real owners are effectively hidden.
These assets never figured in Imee’s annual statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN) from 1998 to 2007 when she was a member of Congress, and from 2010 to 2011 when she was provincial governor. Laws on SALN require all business interests, whether in the Philippines or offshore, to be publicly declared. The Constitution, in fact, requires full disclosure, a reminder to the SALN-secretive Rodrigo Duterte.
Why do public officials need to have secret offshore bank accounts? Simple answer: because they steal. That is the reason many are agog over Magnitsky and the possibility of exacting accountability from corrupt officials.
So an advice to the Magnitsky candidates whose assets are about to be frozen — practice your own specimen signatures now for your respective pseudonyms such as Jane Ryan and William Saunders. Take it from Imee. She is there to teach you. To the Caribbean you go.
[On Twitter: @AntonioJMontal2. Email: [email protected]]
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