$29 Million or ₱1.3 Billion from Marcos' Swiss bank accounts returned to the Philippine Government

An estimated $29 million or ₱1.3 Billion, previously stored in secret Swiss accounts kept by the late President Ferdinand Marcos and family members, have been returned to the Philippine government. 

The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) made this announcement on Wednesday, roughly two weeks before the Philippines is set to commemorate the 1986 People Power Revolution that deposed Marcos who, with close family members, relatives, and cronies, sought exile in Hawaii. 

Worth P1.3 billion, the funds were from accounts held in the name of several foundations which were later proven to be "fronts of the [members of the] Marcos family," Andres Bautista, PCGG Chairperson said in a press briefing held on Wednesday morning. 

The funds—which were originally denominated in two currencies including the British pound—were transferred to the national treasury after the PCGG, on the strength of Philippine, Swiss, and Singaporean court decisions, engaged in talks with several financial institutions to recover the Marcoses' ill-gotten wealth. 

In 1997, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court ordered the funds to be turned over to the Philippine government, Bautista explained. 

"There was enough evidence to convince the Swiss courts particularly the highest court of Switzerland, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, to say that these are really ill-gotten wealth and that's why they agreed to the repatriation of these funds back to the Philippines," he said during the briefing. 

However, the Swiss court set conditions before the funds be turned over to the Philippine government. 

These conditions were: that the funds were to be invested in a double A bank; that a final decision regarding the matter be issued by the Philippines' Supreme Court; and that the Philippine government should enter an escrow arrangement with another bank. 

As a result of the Swiss court ruling, the money was later placed in West Landesbank in Singapore and the Philippine government arranged to have the money temporarily held by the privately-led Philippine National Bank, which used to be one of the government's depository banks but is now a lender controlled by businessman Lucio Tan, a known associate of the Marcoses. 

In July 2003, the Philippine Supreme Court issued a decision granting the forfeiture of these assets in favor of the government. 

Not long after, a case was filed in Singapore by lawyers of human rights victims during the Marcos dictatorship. The case sought to stake a claim on funds from the Swiss accounts that were, at that time, stored in West Landesbank. 

But in August 2012, a Singapore High Court sustained the claim of the Philippine National Bank, stating that "it holds the legal title as a trustee of the Republic of the Philippines," Bautista explained during the briefing. 

In December 2013, the Singapore Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment, paving the way for a meeting between "the PCGG, the PNB, as well as the [Wes Landesbank] which held the funds," regarding the fund turnover, Bautista said. 

And on February 5 and 10, the PCGG was finally able to turn over the funds to the Philippine national treasury, Bautista said. 

A total of P166 billion have been recovered by the PCGG in its 28-year existence, Bautista said.

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