MANILA – The Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday said it is coordinating with its American counterpart regarding charges against detained businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles and 5 members of her family who allegedly illegally transmitted $20 million in Philippine public funds to the United States.
“We have been quietly working together with the [US Department of Justice] regarding the conspiracy to commit money laundering cases. We welcome this development, as it paves the way for the return of the people’s money to our national treasury,” Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said in a text message.
A US federal grand jury indicted Napoles, alleged mastermind in the multibillion-peso Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam in the Philippines, Jo Christine Napoles, James Christopher Napoles, Jeane Catherine Napoles, Reynald Luy Lim, and Ana Marie Lim for conspiracy to commit domestic and international money laundering.
Guevarra said Napoles has to first stand trial in the Philippines for plunder and graft charges over the ‘pork barrel’ scam, where billions in state funds were allegedly diverted to fake non-government organizations.
“Although we cannot extradite Napoles until her cases in Philippine courts have been terminated, the DOJ will extend all assistance to its US counterpart in prosecuting the money laundering cases, and in ensuring the people’s money is returned in due time to our national treasury,” Guevarra said.
“I think some of them are actually in the US and may get arrested,” he added, referring to Napoles’ relatives among those indicted.
The federal grand jury said the monies subject of the US cases were diverted to money remitters in the Philippines and subsequently wired to Southern California bank accounts where these were allegedly used to purchase real estate, shares in at least two businesses, and finance the lifestyle of family members in the US including Jeane Napoles and Reynald and Ana Marie Lim
Author: Ina Reformina
Source: ABS-CBN News