CA freezes accounts tied to fertilizer scam

By Mike Frialde
Friday, July 4, 2008


Page: 1


The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered the freezing of the bank accounts of former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn “Jocjoc” Bolante and several others for their alleged involvement in the P728-million fertilizer scam.

In a 20-page decision penned by Associate Justice Pampio Abarintos, the CA granted the ex-parte petition of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) for a 20-day freeze on 70 bank accounts and other monetary instruments under the names of Bolante and others.

“We have yet to receive a copy of the ruling but we will follow what the court says,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said in reaction to the CA order.

The appellate court granted the AMLC’s petition after finding probable cause that the accounts are related to the fertilizer fund scam.

Covered by the freeze order are the accounts in AIG Philam Savings Bank Inc., Banco de Oro Universal Bank, Citibank N.A., East-West Bank, Equitable PCI Bank, Maybank Phils. Inc., Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co., Philippine National Bank, Philippine Savings Bank, Planters Development Bank, Philippine Business Bank, Union Bank, Insular Life Assurance Co., Pru-Life Insurance Corp. of UK, Manufacturers Life Insurance Co., Standard Insurance Co., BPI/MS Insurance Corp., Performance Foreign Exchange Corp., Bank of the Philippine Islands, Union Bank of the Philippines, Rizal Commercial Banking Corp., and Standard Chartered Bank.

The appellate court directed the monetary institutions “to desist from and not allow any transaction, withdrawal, deposit, transfer, removal, conversion, other movement or concealment of the accounts.”

Aside from Bolante, the AMLC identified the other account holders as Molugan Foundation, the Assembly of Gracious Samaritans Foundation Inc., One Accord Christian Community Endeavor for Salvation & Success through Poverty Alleviation Inc., Society’s Multi-Purpose Foundation Inc., Alliance for the Conservation of the Environment of Pangasinan Inc., Sta. Lucia Education Association of Bulacan Inc., Livelihood Corp., Ariel C. Panganiban, Donnie Ray G. Panganiban, Jaypee G. Panganiban, spouses Samuel and Katherine Samuel Bombeo and Eduardo F. Suerez.

The CA also ordered the AMLC to submit within 24 hours from receipt of the resolution, documents detailing the amounts of the monetary instruments, properties or related web accounts as of the time they were frozen.

The AMLC was also directed to submit to the CA relevant information as to the nature of the monetary instruments and related web accounts pertaining to the monetary instruments or properties subject of the freeze order.

“The Court finds that petitioner AMLC was able to establish probable cause that an unlawful activity had been committed by the aforementioned individuals and entities and that the subject accounts are related to such an unlawful activity,” the appellate court said in its resolution.

The CA has set a hearing on July 8 to determine whether to extend, modify, or lift the freeze order.

The Chicago Immigration Court and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) have denied Bolante’s appeal for political asylum in the US.

US immigration officials said Bolante failed to prove that he would be politically persecuted if he returns to the Philippines.

Bolante fled the country after the Senate announced that it wanted him to testify on the alleged use of the P726-million fertilizer fund to beef up the campaign kitty of President Arroyo in the 2004 elections.

Bolante was arrested and jailed in the US after he tried to enter Los Angeles, California on July 7, 2006 when his non-immigrant visa had already been revoked by the US State Department.(PhilStar)

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