Marcos' son still eyes share of loot

The son of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos said he still hopes to secure some of the cash and property the government says his family looted during 20 years of brutal rule.

He also confirmed for the first time that he had a direct hand in trying to withdraw US$200 million from a secret family bank account with Credit Suisse in Switzerland.

It was this failed attempt that the Philippine government said caused Switzerland to freeze the Marcos family's deposits there.

'We've been pursuing a compromise settlement since 1986. We will continue to do so,' Senator Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jnr said during a forum earlier this year.

Marcos said that on March 22, 1986, weeks after the family fled the Philippines, Filipino banker Michael de Guzman visited the family at their quarters at Hickam Air Base in Hawaii. The US government had barred them from leaving Hawaii. Marcos recalled that de Guzman - 'a close friend' of the son of his father's military chief - 'came to see my parents ... because he thinks he can help. He says he has identified an amount of money in a certain bank and he feels if he is given the necessary authority, the legal authority, he can withdraw it'. He also wanted a 'handling fee'.

De Guzman was to transfer the cash from Switzerland to a small bank he owned in Vienna, Austria - the Export Finanzierungsbank. Marcos confirmed he wrote to de Guzman: 'We all feel that you are being a real friend. Since the goods won't be in your bank for too long, please feel free to charge whatever handling fees you feel are appropriate.'

It was the first time a Marcos confirmed trying to withdraw cash from Switzerland. Both his father and mother refused to answer the same question in a 1986 court deposition.

But de Guzman said the young Marcos played a bigger role in the scheme. He told a congressional probe afterwards that it was Bongbong Marcos who had given him details of a banker at Credit Suisse.

The money the Marcos family tried to withdraw with de Guzman's help was part of funds awarded to the Philippine government by the Swiss Federal Court in 2003 - amounting to US$683 million, including interest. The Swiss Federal Department of Justice and Police said the cash was 'of criminal origin' - the Marcos family still dispute this.

Estimates of the family's still unrecovered wealth range from US$2 billion to US$10 billion. A 1995 deal pushed by Bongbong Marcos would have allowed the family to keep a quarter of the wealth 'net of taxes', with all civil cases dropped. The Supreme Court struck it down.