Palace needs lawful reason to probe Napoles billions

Posted at 06/17/14 11:03 AM

MANILA - Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma on Tuesday said government cannot just investigate Napoles' financial records without due process.

In an interview on Headstart, Coloma addressed reports that Napoles has billions in bank transactions up until last year.

Coloma said measures like the Anti-Money Laundering Law allow for procedures to track large amounts of money.

"If you have a very significant deposit in a bank, that is automatically tracked by [Anti-Money Laundering Council]. The records are there," he said.

"There has to be a lawful reason to investigate," he added.

He pointed out that even taipans in the Philippines have billions in the bank.

Transactions recorded in various bank accounts in the Philippines until 2013 showed businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged brains of the pork barrel scam, allegedly made almost P15 billion in 10 years in her deals with the government.

The amount does not include a list of properties and other luxury items worth hundreds of millions of pesos she had accumulated over the years, as monitored and documented by whistleblowers and lawyer Levito Baligod.

Baligod said he secured documents detailing Napoles' transactions in some of her bank accounts from March 2003 to June 2013, a month before she surrendered for the serious illegal detention charge filed against Napoles by her cousin Benhur Luy, now the government's primary witness against her.

The bank transactions allegedly reached a total balance of P14.9 billion at one point.

Napoles also had some P4 billion pesos in cold cash, Baligod said.

"Iyung 10-year period, hanggang June of 2013, ang cash deposit niya ay umaabot ng P4 billion. Pagbili niya ng foreign currency, iyung mga pagbili niya ng redeemable shares, lahat lahat po umaabot ng mga P6-P7 billion financial transactions niya," he said.