Philippines to probe ‘secret’ Marcos offshore trust after leaks expose rich who hide cash
The Philippine government said on Thursday it planned to investigate an allegation that the eldest daughter of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was the beneficiary of a secret offshore trust.
A report published by the Philippine Centre for Investigative Journalism alleged Imee Marcos, 57, now a provincial governor, had failed to declare the British Virgin Islands trust as legally required.
The revelation was part of a collaborative leak by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) who began releasing the details of prominent public figures with offshore investments. The group claims it has more than 2m e-mails and other documents exposing the identities of the world's wealthy and elite who are secretly stashing their money.
Andres Bautista, head of a presidential body tasked to recover the billions of dollars the Marcos family stole from government coffers during the patriarch’s 20-year rule, told reporters his office would look into the allegations.
“We are duty bound to investigate and, depending upon informed preliminary findings, decide whether to pursue the matter,” Bautista said.
A popular uprising topped Marcos in 1986, and he died in US exile three years later. His famously extravagant wife, Imelda, has always denied she and her husband were corrupt.
The Presidential Commission on Good Government, which Bautista heads, has recovered US$4 billion in assets that the Marcos illegally acquired, including from Swiss bank accounts and US properties.
But Bautista said in January that, with Imee, Imelda and Ferdinand Junior having re-established political influence in the Philippines, the commission was considering giving up on the chase for the billions more believed to be hidden.
“It’s been 26 years and people you are after are back in power. At some point, you just have to say, ‘We’ve done our best’, and that’s that. It is really difficult,” he said.
The Philippine Centre for Investigative Journalism said the work looking into the Marcos trust was a collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which includes major foreign media groups.
It said the research had uncovered “scores of documents” showing Imee Marcos was a financial advisor for, and beneficiary of the secret trust, although it was not known what assets it held.
Calls by AFP to Imee Marcos’s office went unanswered on Thursday. The PCIJ said she had failed to respond to its requests for comment.
Imee Marcos is running unopposed in next month’s mid-term elections for a second term as governor of Ilocos Norte province, which was her father’s political stronghold.
Imelda Marcos is likely to retain her seat in Congress representing a district in the province. Ferdinand Junior, a senator, is widely expected to run for president in 2016.