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Mrs. Marcos Says Family Has $800M

March 26, 1998

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Imelda Marcos claimed Thursday to have more than $800 million stashed away in foreign banks, all of which she promised to give to poor Filipinos if she is elected president.

``If you know how rich you are, you are not rich,″ the widow of dictator Ferdinand Marcos said. ``But me, I am not aware of the extent of my wealth. That’s how rich we are.″

It is the first time Mrs. Marcos has publicly admitted her family has more wealth than that discovered by the government since Marcos was ousted in a popular revolt in 1986.

Marcos died in 1989, accused of plundering about $10 billion from the national treasury during his 20-year rule. He never admitted any wrongdoing.

Mrs. Marcos said the $800 million does not include $540 million the government has discovered her husband had in various accounts in two Swiss banks.

``There is more Marcos wealth that this government is not yet aware of, but for the time being, I can admit that there is only $800 million kept in various international banks, but I cannot reveal them,″ Mrs. Marcos told a press forum in Manila.

Mrs. Marcos, who is trailing in a field of nine major candidates in May’s presidential election, promised to distribute the money to poor communities.

Magtanggol Gunigundo, chairman of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, in charge of recovering the Marcos wealth, welcomed her admission.

``That is good, so that we can embark on another case of forfeiture and confiscation,″ Gunigundo said.

But while he said he believes the Marcoses do have undisclosed assets _ how much he would not say _ he also cautioned that Mrs. Marcos’ statement must also be seen in the light of the presidential campaign.

``I believe she is saying this in order to titillate the people to vote for her,″ he said.

Mrs. Marcos ran unsuccessfully in the 1992 election and won a seat in the House of Representatives in 1995.

In December and January, the Swiss Supreme Court ordered that the $540 million be transferred to an escrow account in the Philippines. The court stipulated that the Philippine government will get the money only if it proves Mrs. Marcos obtained it illegally.

So far, Mrs. Marcos has been convicted only on unrelated corruption charges. She was sentenced to nine to 12 years in prison but is free on bond pending an appeal.

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