Ocampo: Estrada Used Fake Name
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ A senior bank official stunned the Philippine impeachment court and put the nation on edge Friday, testifying that President Joseph Estrada signed large bank transactions under a false name in violation of graft laws.
Clarissa Ocampo, a senior vice president of Equitable PCI Bank, said she watched Estrada sign the name ``Jose Velarde″ to documents authorizing a $10 million investment agreement using money in the bank.
Ocampo said she personally took the documents to the presidential palace for Estrada to sign on Feb. 4, 1999. She also named several other people who she said witnessed the signing.
Estrada is charged with bribery, graft, betrayal of public trust and violating the constitution. He is being tried in the Philippine Senate. A guilty verdict by two-thirds of the 22-member Senate on any of the four counts would force him from office.
Friday was the impeachment trial’s 12th day, and one that dealt a huge blow to Estrada’s defense. The prosecution has argued all along that Estrada hid proceeds from graft in a network of bank accounts, most in the Equitable PCI Bank, and Ocampo’s testimony was its best corroboration yet.
Ocampo also testified that Estrada kept a hidden account in her bank, also under the name Jose Velarde. Under Philippine graft laws, public official must declare all income. Estrada’s official declared assets in 1999 were $700,000.