THE admission of suspected drug lord Franz Sabalones last year that he is into drug trafficking could bolster the government’s effort to forfeit his assets amounting to about P350 million.
State lawyers could seize all of Sabalones’s bank assets and properties if they could establish that these were sourced from his “covered transactions,” such as illegal drug trade, said retired Regional Trial Court Judge Meinrado Paredes.
Covered transactions include a “single unusually large and complex transaction” in excess of hundreds or millions in cash deposit without having “credible” income or business that would commensurate his money.
If the accused is convicted of money laundering, the court shall issue a judgment of forfeiture in favor of the government relative to his assets or proceeds of his unlawful activities.
Authorities may then initiate an investigation and subsequently file criminal complaints with the Department of Justice for the prosecution of the money laundering offenses.
Sabalones, brother of San Fernando, Cebu Vice Mayor Fralz Sabalones, is facing forfeiture proceedings before Judge Gilbert Moises of the Regional Trial Court Branch 18 in Cebu City.
The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed the civil petition in court last Aug. 10.
Apart from Sabalones, also named respondents were his relative Luna Sabalones, Land Registration Authority, Cebu Provincial Register of Deeds, Cebu City Register of Deeds, San Fernando Municipal Assessor’s Office, Banco de Oro (BDO), Unibank, Wealth Development Bank and First Standard Finance Corp.
The process server, assisted by Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) 7 agents, served Friday Judge Moises’ order to Cebu City branches of BDO on Ramos St. and two Wealth Bank branches on Archbishop Reyes Ave. and on Ramos St.; the Cebu Provincial Register of Deeds; and the Cebu City Register of Deeds.
The respondents have 15 days to answer the petition.
Sabalones made inter-branch cash deposits from various BDO branches in Cebu ranging from P24,000 to P2 million in 2012.
The OSG petitioned to seize Sabalones’ assets and properties after the Court of Appeals ordered Sabalones’ P76 million assets froze at least for six months last Jan. 19.
The freeze order came after PDEA 7 asked AMLC to put on hold the alleged drug lord’s wealth on suspicion that he laundered it.
Sabalones confessed that he is a drug lord operating in Central Visayas and tagged several policemen as his protectors.
Court records showed that Sabalones executed his judicial affidavit on Aug. 8, 2016 disclosing his drug trafficking activities and the process of his operations.
Sabalones reportedly owns several properties, including six lots, in Cebu province. He owns the Paulo Luna Beach Resort located in Sitio Kalubihan, North Poblaion, San Fernando, Cebu.
In January this year, the appeals court froze Sabalones’ three bank accounts (one BDO and two Wealth Bank accounts) and six real properties.
Four of the properties are in San Fernando, Cebu; one in Barangay Guadalupe Cebu City; and one in Barangay Poblacion III in Carcar City.
The CA resolution stated that the court found probable cause that the subject bank accounts and properties are “related to an unlawful activity or money laundering as defined under Republic Act 9160,” or the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA) of 2001. (GMD)