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Philippines asks Switzerland to freeze Marcos accounts

A picture of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, forms the backdrop to an address given by his wife, Imelda

(Keystone Archive)

The Philippines has asked Switzerland and Germany to freeze bank accounts thought to contain funds plundered by the family of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos.

The Philippines' ambassadors in Bern and Berlin reportedly made the request in response to a report in a Manila newspaper, which alleged that Marcos' youngest daughter, Irene Marcos-Araneta, tried to move more than $13 billion from Switzerland to Germany.

The request was made public by Jorge Sarmiento, acting head of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, which is charged with recovering assets plundered by Marcos during his 20 years in power.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported this week that Araneta and her husband tried to "launder" funds in a Marcos account held at UBS in Switzerland by transferring the money to Deutsche Bank in Germany.

The paper said the couple was unaware that the German authorities had been monitoring them as part of a money laundering investigation.

A statement released by German prosecutors said a woman using the name Irene Marcos-Araneta opened several accounts last month at a Dusseldorf branch of Deutsche Bank. The communiqué said she wanted to transfer large sums of money there.

However, the statement said that it was not immediately clear if the person who opened the account was Marcos' daughter.

Jorge Sarmiento said he has written to the Philippine envoy in the Swiss capital, Bern and the government's Swiss lawyers to "take appropriate measures necessary to protect the interest of the Philippine government".

He said that he asked that the account be frozen, that all assets in it be transferred to an escrow account in Manila and that the bank documents to be sent to the Philippines.

Switzerland has so far transferred more than $629 million from Marcos' Swiss bank accounts to an escrow account in Manila at the request of the Philippine authorities.

Marcos was ousted in a popular revolt in 1986 and went to live in exile in Hawaii. He died three years later. Subsequent governments have accused the Marcoses of illegally enriching themselves while in power.

swissinfo with agencies


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