CJ defense caught flatfooted by AMLC document

Posted at 05/14/12 4:43 PM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – A member of Chief Justice Renato Corona’s defense team on Monday said he was surprised that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) had already issued a report on Corona’s dollar accounts to the Office of the Ombudsman.

“Yun ang nakakagulat. Meron na pala yung dokumento na yan. Dapat inilabas na yung dokumento bago pinasagot si Chief Justice sapagkat parang gusto talagang igisa sa sariling mantika. Bakit hindi ordinaryo yung proseso,” defense lawyer Rico Quicho said.

Quicho said Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales “went the extra mile” in trying to ferret out the truth about Corona’s alleged dollar deposits.

He said that under normal procedures, the Ombudsman should have looked at the complaints about Corona’s dollar deposits and decided whether there is prima facie evidence to mount an investigation.

He said that instead of junking the complaints, the Ombudsman went straight to the AMLC to investigate the matter further.

“Maganda ho yan. Sana gawin sa lahat ng mga kaso sa Ombudsman,” he said.

'Corona denied $10M'

Another defense lawyer, Tranquil Salvador III, said the defense team asked Corona about his dollar deposits following news reports that he had $10 million in different bank accounts.

"We asked him about the $10 million and he said 'Wala yang $10 million.' Bakit kami umabot sa puntong ito na tinawag ang Ombudsman? I guess siya mismo ang may kagustuhan na tawagin ang Ombudsman at harapin ito," he said.

Another defense lawyer, Karen Jimeno, said it would be good to summon a representative from the AMLC to explain how the agency conducted its investigation.

"This is something we did not know because we saw the Ombudsman's letter and there was no mention of the AMLA report...The assumption was this came from one of the complainants," she told reporters.

She denied that summoning the Ombudsman came as a blow to the defense.

"It did not blow up in our faces because now we know where the information came from, and we can examine the documents," she said.

Morales testified she received a 17-page report that detailed Corona’s dollar deposits, including over 700 transactions.

She said she used the report in asking Corona to answer allegations that he had $10 million in foreign currency deposits in aggregate value.

Salvador said they want to know if the proper procedure in sourcing the information from AMLC was followed.

He added: “Mahirap ang kalagayan namin dahil we are up against a number of agencies.”

He also warned the public against accepting Morales' evidence "hook, line and sinker."