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The issue of Marcos' gold has hit the headlines since Atty. Robert Swift submitted during an LA Court hearing last 29 September 1997 documents on two incidents of Marcos gold transfers, their sale and subsequent deposit in other secret accounts reportedly done by Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. last June-July and June 1997 amounting to $466 million and $23 million, respectively.
Upon submission of documents and cross-examination of witnesses presented by human rights lawyer, Atty. Robert Swift, to the LA Court, Judge Manuel Real issued a preliminary injunction to prohibit the movement and transfer of reported Marcos gold, certificates and money in the banks cited in the documents.
The details regarding these transfers were reportedly contained in a letter by Reiner Jacobi on August 8, 1997 to President Ramos which the latter admitted having received and endorsed subsequently to the PCGC for action.
The secret transfer of Marcos gold was initiated by the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) as early as 1986.
The first Transfer: 1.1 million troy ounces of gold
- 1986: the first transfer involved 1.1 million troy ounces of gold (30+ tons) which were deposited in five separate banks.
- 1993: these were sold and the proceeds of this sale were deposited in the Swiss Bank Corporation (SUC).
- In June-July 1997 the money was transferred from the SBC to the Bank Julius Baer (BJB) totaling $466 million.
- The $466 million was deposited in a corporate account of the PNOC, allegedly by a certain Enrique (as verified by Robert Swift) Vasquez on 30 June.
- On 10 July, the proceeds were transferred to another account, the Marcan Account, Inc. in the same bank (BJB). Among the directors of Marcan, Inc. were a Mr. Castro and a Mr. N. Vasquez, according to the Jacobi letter to the President.
- On 16 July, PCGG Chair Gunigundo was said to have met Reiner Jacobi. It was discussed that alleged friends of President Ramos opened two accounts at a Swiss bank where at least $466 million of the laundered Marcos gold proceeds were also deposited (PDI 9 October 1997).
- In the same meeting, Gunigundo seemed shocked over the fact that money was being laundered behind his back ("Oh my God, they have done a deal behind my back", he said). Jacobi claims he taped the conversation with Gunigundo (PDI 9 Oct. 1997).
The second transfer: two tons of gold
- The second transaction involved two tons of gold worth $23 million which money was withdrawn from the Union Bank of Switzerland.
- June 12, 1997: According to Jacobi, Rothschild and Sons based in Zurich bought one ton of the Marcos gold from UBS on this day. (PDI 10 Oct. 1997)
- June 12, 1997: Acting on behalf of UBS, Citibank Zurich also sold a ton of gold to Sun Hung Kuf, a licensed gold dealer based in HK. (PDI 10 Oct 1997)
- June 12-13, 1997: Proceeds from the sale of two tons of gold amounting to$23 million were deposited in the Standard Chattered Bank of HK, according to earlier reports.
- Despite the letters sent to Mr. Ramos aBout the laundering, Jacobi and his associate, Dr. David Chaikin, who served as his lawyer, did not receive any response from Manila.
- After waiting for a week and receiving information that the laundering still continued, Jacobi and Chaikin decided to terminate their work for the government in August of 1997.
- Jacobi and Chaikin contacted human rights claimants' lead counsel Robert Swifr and made available to him documentary evidence on the movements of the Marcos gold.
- On 5 September, 1997, the LA Court issued a Temporary Restraining Order on money transfers to the three banks involved: the UBS, the Bank Julius Baer and the Standard Chartered Bank of Hongkong. The TRO was to expire on 30 September.
- 29 September: A preliminary injunction was ordered by the LA Court on the two banks involved in the reported laundering, the Union Bank of Switzerlandand the Bank Julius Baer. Meanwhile, the Standard Chartered Bank of Hongkong agreed to extend the freeze order made earlier on 5 September by the LA Court to the period covered by the preliminary injunction.
Evidences Submitted to LA CourtAugust 18 Ritter Memo
- August 18, 1997 Peter Ritter Memo. Dr. Peter Ritter was the administrator of the Sandy foundation which handles the Marcos gold accounts. The Memo was submitted by Atty. Bob Swift to the LA Court.
- The Memo affirmed the laundering that was taking place and mentioned the presence of an account of the Philippine President in the Bank Julius Baer.
- Prior to the September 29 Hearing, Bob Swift sent a copy of the August 18 Ritter Inter-Office Memo to the office of Gen. Almonte, requesting the latter to comment on the document before its presentation to the court.
- The Philippine Government never responded to Swift's letter (it is standard operating procedure that government offices respond within a period of 16 days to official communications made to them). Instead, the government sent a copy of the Memo to its Philippine Ambassador in Berne who in turn, Magtanggol Gunigundo admitted in the Senate Hearings, gave this to the Swiss government who turned this over to the Swiss banks.
- By the time the 29 September Hearing took place in LA, after Bob Swift presented as evidence the August 18 Ritter Inter-Office Memo, a September 24 Ritter Memo was produced by the Swiss banks disowning the August 18 Memo.
September 24 Ritter Retraction
- Thus, the August 18 Ritter Memo was contested by the Swiss banks on the Sept. 29 hearing with a declaration allegedly from Ritter saying the Aug. 18 Memo was a forgery. (Signatures of Ritter in the August 18 Memo and Sept. 29 affidavit did not match).
- February 6, 1974 Marcos Letter of Authority to Peter Ritter as Administrator of Sandy Foundation
- On Feb. 6, 1974, Marcos appointed Ritter as administrator of Sandy Foundation (sometimes referred to as Anstalt). The agreement was executed in Lichtenstein, Switzerland by both Marcos and Ritter. Ritter's signature in the 1974 document bore the same slant (sloping to the right and a bit angular) as his signature in the August 18, 1997 Memo and a September 14 Memo. In both memos, the Sandy Foundation stationery was used, and the name underneath the signature was Dr. Peter Ritter-Jurus.
September 14, 1997 Ritter Memo
- The making and signing of the Sept. 14 Memo was witnessed by Anthony Silano, a witness for the human rights victims who testified in an LA court on Sept. 29 that he had seen the Marcos gold bullion.
- Ritter in this Memo said that since 1986 "there have been a number of sales of the precious metal, including the sale of two tons during 12-13 June 1997. As of 30 June 1997, the precious metal accounts totaled approximately 1,240 tons. This is separate from the substantial currency and securities accounts of Sandy Anstalt held at UBS, which is also beneficially owned by the Marcos family."
July/August Communications(Between Reiner Jacobi and CHR Magtanggol Gunigundo)
The July - August Wait
- July 16, 1997. Meeting between Reiner Jacobi and Gunigundo in Manila. According to Jacobi, Gunigundo expressed shock that laundering of the Marcos money was going on in Bank Julius Baer among "friends" of President Ramos who opened two accounts where the $466 million was deposited. Gunigundo disclosed this laundering to Jacobi. "They have done a deal behind my back," Gunigundo allegedly told Jacobi re laundering.
- According to Jacobi's August 8 letter to President Ramos, the money transfer was internal to the bank.
- On June 30, the $466 million was deposited in an account under the name of the PNOC at the Bank Julius Baer. The PNOC account was controlled by a "Nazaro Vasquez", Ill said, according to his sources within the Swiss banking system. When checked out by Robert Swift, the name he found was Enrique Vasquez.
- On July 10, 1997, the proceeds were transferred to an account in the name of a private company called Marcan, Inc. at the same bank (BJB). Among the directors of Marcan, Inc. were a Mr. Castro and a Mr. N. Vasquez, but the signatory to the account was a Mr. N. Vasquez.
- Gunigundo told Jacobi that he would relay this information (the 2 new accounts in BJB) to President Ramos when they meet on July 21.
- July 21 p.m. Gunigundo called up Jacobi at the EDSA Plaza Shangri-La Hotel. "Good news you'd be happy with the President's decision," MC told IM and the latter thought he would finally be paid as promised at the beginning of the Operation Domino.
- Jacobi went back to Australia. He waited for one week, July 22 to 29. He called up Gunigundo on July 29. Gunigundo said that President Ramos asked for one more week. Said President Ramos told him this before he gave his State of the Nation Address before Congress on July 28 over lunch. Jacobi waited for another week.
- August 5. Jacobi called Gunigundo up and latter answered: "Well, look, we need to verify this information." He asked for additional information and other documents and his voice sounded different.
- Jacobi got mad and refused to give more documents. Jacobi consulted his lawyer, Dr. David Chaikin, a former high official of the Australian government and an expert in extradition and in international mutual assistance.
- Chaikin advised Jacobi to write President Ramos that he would now have to proceed with the agenda he described earlier to President Ramos in his July 18 letter.
Jacobi's July 18, 1997 Letter to President Ramos
- When David Castro (former PCGG Chair) abandoned Jacobi in HK, he knew he had to defend himself against trumped up charges by the Marcoses. He had various periods of incarceration in 3 different countries for crimes he did not commit. (He was acquitted in charges made against him in both the Australian and HK courts. He was accused of economic espionage by the Swiss government who wanted him extradited from Germany, but this did not push through.)
- Suggested that the laundering activity of the Marcoses, which is a crime under U.S. law be exposed. A 10% reward is granted the individual who does the expose and this sum represents an amount only in excess of US $50 million.
- If above is not acceptable, Jacobi requested President Ramos for his own action agenda which should, however, include payment either in whole or in part for Jacobi's work. President Ramos did not respond to Jacobi's July 18 letter Jacobi's August 8, 1997 Letter to President Ramos
- Thinking that Gunigundo did not give the July 18 letter to President Ramos, Jacobi sent the August 8 letter directly to Malacanang. The following are part of the letter:
"The information that I have obtained has major national security implications. I am particularly concerned that the Chairman (Gunigundo) may not have given you the most sensitive information because of his strong belief that he must protect you at all costs. However, I firmly believe that you are entitled to receive this information as head of the Philippine Government."
Jacobi said he withheld any further documents to Gunigundo re the laundering activities to protect his sources and because of the continual watering down of his information by the Chairman. Jacobi gave President Ramos all the number here he could be reached. The President did not respond.
President Ramos' Response
- After the laundering was exposed in a Los Angeles court and in the international media, President Ramos first move was to ask Congress to set the parameters for a compromise agreement with the Marcoses. Then, he tried to discredit Jacobi saying the latter had a string of criminal cases.
- The cases referred to are connected with Jacobi's work with the Philippine Government in getting information on the Marcos gold deposits. Two courts, one in HK and one in Australia, cleared him up, particularly on the drug trafficking charge which was proven to be "wholly uncorroborated." Neither was he convicted of the economic espionage case filed in Switzerland (PIJI 9 Oct `97).
The December 28, 1993 CompromIse Agreement(Crosscurrents, Antonio T. Carpio, Manila Times, 10 October 1992)
- The Compromise Agreement consists of a General Agreement and two Supplemental Agreements all signed by Gunigundo and the Marcoses. These agreements are part of the pleadings filed over a year ago by the Marcoses with the Sandiganbayan in support of their petition seeking court approval of the compromise.
- The Supplemental Agreement dated July 1994 fixes a "starting" 25% share for the Marcoses. This 25% share "may be upwardly adjusted in favor of the Marcos family based on Their contribution to the joint recovery efforts.
- Since there is no ceiling on this upward adjustment, the Marcoses can even claim a 90% share on the ground that without their disclosure and cooperation, there can be no recovery of... the assets.
- The Compromise Agreement (CA) does not define clearly what constitutes the Marcos assets that will be shared between the Government and the Marcoses. The loose language used would allow the Marcoses to even demand
- share of assets already turned over to the Government, like the assets surrendered by J.Y. Campos, Antonio Florendo, and Roberto Benedicto;
- assets already subject of court cases, like the San- Miguel and the UCPB shares.
- The CA does not provide for a minimum value of assets that the Marcoses must disclose before the compromise can take effect. The Marcoses can simply disclose what the PCGG already knows about the Marcos assets and claim full compliance with the disclosure requirement.
- The CA does not provide a time frame for disclosure of assets. The Marcoses can indefinitely delay the disclosure while the Government is locked into the CA unable to prosecute the civil and criminal cases.
- The CA commits the Government to drop all civil and criminal cases against the Marcoses. No time frame or condition precedent is stated before the Govt. is obliged to drop the cases. The Marcoses can demand immediate dismissal of the cases even before they make a frill disclosure of the assets.
- The CIA states that the Marcos share "shall be net of, and exempt from, any form of taxes." This is patently illegal since neither The Executive nor the Judicial Departments can exempt ay one from taxes.
- The CIA provides that "this Agreement settles all claims and counterclaims which the parties may have against one another, whether past, present, or future, matured or inchoate." This provision is void. The Civil Code provides that "any waiver of an action for future fraud is void." The Agreement seeks to grant the Marcoses immunity from any future fraud that they may commit against the Government.
- As pointed out by Antonio T. Carpio, in recommending the rejection of the CIA, the "ill-conceived, poorly drafted, sloppily executed and grossly one-sided (in favor of the Marcoses) compromise agreements will make The Ramos Administration the laughing stock of the Philippine legal and judicial community."
- In an earlier article written by Atty. Carpio in the same newspaper, he cited the fact that, aside from the objectionable compromise agreement, Chair Gunigundo was never given the authority by the president to negotiate with the Marcoses through an SPA (special power of attorney).
- Given the onerous provisions of the GA and given the fact That this was undertaken wiThout Presidential authority, Mr. Gunigundo evidently negotiated in bad faith, misrepresenting the government and deceiving both the government and the people. That he was given an SPA several months later by Malacanang to continue negotiating with the Marcoses has even raised more questions and objections to his continued stay as PCGG Chair.