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Lawyer claims government oil company laundered Marcos wealth

September 26, 1997

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ A lawyer accused the Philippines’ state oil company Friday of laundering money from the sale of gold owned by the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos and depositing it in a Swiss bank account.

An official of the Philippine National Oil Co. denied the allegation and said the company has no Swiss bank account. Swiss bank officials also denied the claim.

Robert Swift, an American lawyer representing 10,000 Filipinos who won a class action suit against Marcos for human rights abuses, said 1.1 million troy ounces of the late president’s gold was sold in 1993 for $440 million.

He said that money, plus an additional $26 million in interest, was deposited in June and July in an account held by the Philippine National Oil Co. at the Bank Julius Baer and Co. in Switzerland.

He declined to identify the person who opened the account but said it was a ``high-level Philippine government official″ who will be named Monday at a hearing in California on Swift’s petition for an injunction on the movement of the money from the Swiss banks.

``We believe it was a classic money laundering situation using a large oil company, or its name at least,″ Swift said.

Jan Bielinski, spokesman for the Bank Julius Baer denied Swift’s allegation.

``The information in question is either based on false information or forgeries,″ he said.

Philippine National Oil Co. Executive Vice President Nieves Osorio also denied any such deposit was made and said the company has no foreign bank accounts.

A statement by the Malacanang presidential palace said President Fidel Ramos also dismissed Swift’s allegations.

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