Wednesday, June 3, 2015

US gives PH $1.38M from seized assets of ex-AFP comptroller Garcia - Ombudsman

From InterAksyon (Jun 3): US gives PH $1.38M from seized assets of ex-AFP comptroller Garcia - Ombudsman

Former AFP comptroller Carlos Garcia (file)

The United States has turned over to the Philippines $1,384,940.28, the second tranche of the proceeds from forfeited assets of former Armed Forces of the Philippines comptroller Carlos Garcia, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said Wednesday.

Morales said US Ambassador Philip Goldberg handed over a US Treasury check for the amount at her office in Quezon City.

The amount represents the net proceeds from the sale of a condominium unit at The Trump Tower on Park Avenue in Manhattan and funds from two accounts maintained in Citibank, New York, which were confirmed by investigators of the US Department of Homeland Security to be part of government funds laundered by Garcia.

In a statement, Goldberg said:  “Battling public corruption is a challenge that all countries face, including the United States.  Meeting that challenge is vitally important to ensure public confidence in the honesty and integrity of public servants.

In January 2012, the US, through then Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas Jr., turned over to the Office of the Ombudsman an initial $100,000, the amount seized by US Customs from Garcia’s two sons when they arrived in California in December 2003.

The seizure led to the investigation and subsequent discovery of how much Garcia stole from the government’s coffers while he served as AFP comptroller.

However, Garcia entered into a controversial plea bargain, admitting to indirect bribery and facilitating money laundering to avoid prosecution for the capital offense of plunder. He was also convicted for perjury.

The plea bargain is still being reviewed by the Supreme Court while forfeiture proceedings are still pending at the Sandiganbayan.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines welcomed the return of the money.

“The return of the money that was taken illegally (by Garcia) from the government coffers is a positive development. This will serve the interest of the Filipino people as a whole,” Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc, AFP public affairs office chief, said.

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