Aquino, 6 others face plunder over illegal shipment of US$141-B gold bars

MANILA -- Plunder and graft charges were filed before the Office of the Ombudsman on Friday against former President Benigno Aquino III and six others in connection with the alleged illegal shipment of US$141-billion worth of gold bars to Thailand.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) member, lawyer Fernando Perito, and former Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) examiner Rogelio Cantoria filed the plunder and graft complaints against Aquino, former Department of Justice (DOJ) secretary and now Senator Leila de Lima, former Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Manuel Roxas II, and Senator Franklin Drilon.

Also charged were current BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr., former Department of Finance (DOF) secretary Cesar Purisima, and Treasury Department chief dealer Lorelei Fernandez.

The complainants said the 3,500 metric tons (MT) of illegally shipped gold bars, which came from the BSP, were intercepted in the Union Bank of Switzerland in December 2014.

They said they filed the complaints based on the BSP circular, which went “viral” on the social media.

The complainants claimed that based on the said BSP circular, more or less 3,500 MT of gold bars were shipped and deposited in the Bank of Thailand.

Cantoria and Perito argued that the said gold bars can still be recovered and returned to the BSP if it went through the legal process.

They added that based on the alleged BSP circular, the gold bars weigh 12.5-kilogram per bar and have “purity” of 99.999 percent.

The complainants claimed that Aquino, De Lima, Roxas, Tetangco, Drilon and Purisima approved the “certification of shipment” in December 2014.

The Centennial Energy Company of Thailand and the Philippine government, during the Aquino administration, approved the release of funds in exchange for the said gold bars, which will be used for “humanitarian projects.” (PNA)


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