Guilty: The case of Imelda Marcos and her illegal Swiss-based organizations

November 9, 2018 - 2:43 PM
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Imelda Marcos
In this photo, Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos sits as the Supreme Court (Third Division) denied the Petition for Review on Certiorari filed by the late former solicitor general Frank Chavez against Marcos. (The STAR/Boy Santos)

Former first lady and Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos was found guilty by the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division of seven counts of graft in relation to the organizations she illegally created in Switzerland while sitting in public office.

She would be imprisoned for six years and one month to 11 years for each graft count, making it a total of 42 to 77 years.

She is also perpetually disqualified to run in any government position, although she is still allowed to run as an Ilocos Norte governor in the 2019 midterm elections until Sandiganbayan considers her case closed.

Her case has been pending in court since December 1991.

The case is bailable if Marcos pays her cash bonds but the amount has not been disclosed as of this writing. She is also allowed to file an appeal and raise it to the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, she has been acquitted in three counts of graft that involves Philippine-based foundations she supposedly had connections with.

Tracing the case 

Marcos was the minister of the Human Settlements from 1976 to 1986 and Metro Manila’s governor from 1978 to 1984. She was also a member of the Interim Batasan Pambansa from 1965 to 1986.

During her stint in the mentioned positions, she created seven Swiss-based organizations and held financial interests in the private sector despite working in the government, which is considered unlawful.

The Ombudsman prosecutor shared in an interview, “Nagkaroon po siya ng financial interests sa mga foundations na ito.”

“As to the amount, paiba-iba po kasi but it involves seven Swiss foundations, tapos kinu-close yung ibang foundation, ita-transfer sa ibang foundation, and then close it again, transfer sa ibang foundation. Na-trace po ‘yung flow ng pera,” he continued.

The Office of the Ombudsman in December 1991 filed 10 counts of graft against Marcos for creating and managing private organizations, as well as having financial interests to several business enterprises.

Imelda Marcos surrounded by wealth
Imelda Marcos managed seven Swiss-based organizations despite being in public office, which is considered unlawful. (Philstar/File photo)

The Swiss-based foundations are Vibur Foundation, Maler Establishment, Trinidad Foundation, Rayby Foundation, Palmy Foundation, Aguamina Foundation and Avertina Foundation.

READ: Ombudsman insists on Imelda Marcos’ guilt in Swiss foundations case

They were allegedly used to maintain Swiss bank accounts that contained millions of dollars under the Marcoses’ name, all funneled from government funds obtained during their regime.

She was charged for violating Section 3 (h) of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act which forbids public officials from having a financial interest in any business where they can intervene. It reads:

“Director or indirectly having financing or pecuniary interest in any business, contract or transaction in connection with which he intervenes or takes part in his official capacity, or in which he is prohibited by the Constitution or by any law from having any interest.”

The Republic Act 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees also forbids a public official from having “outside employment and other related activities” as stated in Section 7 (b). An excerpt of it reads:

Public officials and employees during their incumbency shall not:

“Own, control, manage or accept employment as officer, employee, consultant, counsel, broker, agent, trustee or nominee in any private enterprise regulated, supervised or licensed by their office unless expressly allowed by law.”

“Engage in the private practice of their profession unless authorized by the Constitution or law, provided, that such practice will not conflict or tend to conflict with their official functions.”

Other policies violated 

Under the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, any public official must also file a “true detailed and sworn” statement of their assets and liabilities as stated in Section 7.

This includes a “statement of the amounts and sources of his income, the amounts of his personal and family expenses and the amount of income taxes paid for the next preceding calendar year.”

SALN

A public official must submit a truthful declaration of his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth. (Philstar/File photo)

Marcos in 1965 to 1985 only declared an income that amounted to $957,487.75, despite having almost $30 million in a French bank account under the company BNP Paribas.

A public official under the same law may also be dismissed from office if he was discovered to have assets considered “out of proportion to his salary and to his other lawful income” as stated in Section 8.

A similar policy exists under the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, where a public official must declare their “assets, liabilities, net worth and financial and business interests” as stated in Section 8 (A).

The document must contain the following:

  • Real property, its improvements, acquisition costs, assessed value and current fair market value;
  • Personal property and acquisition cost;
  • All other assets such as investments, cash on hand or in banks, stocks, bonds, and the like;
  • Liabilities, and;
  • All business interests and financial connections.