US probes Mikey Arroyo over properties

exclusive report by Henry Omaga-Diaz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 09 2012 09:12 PM | Updated as of Jul 10 2012 03:54 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The US Justice Department is investigating party-list Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo over his alleged properties in the United States, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has revealed.

De Lima said the US Department of Justice has sent her a letter about the investigation.

However, she declined to discuss details regarding the issue.

"Mayroon kaming natanggap na request... about an ongoing investigation. But you have to pardon me, hindi pa namin puwedeng sabihin iyung detalye, kasi ongoing pa nga," she said.

De Lima added that Washington and Manila have existing cooperation agreements on cases involving the 2 countries.

Arroyo's lawyer, Atty. Ruy Rondain, said he is not aware of any US investigation on his client.

The lawmaker, a son of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, was earlier reported to have bought and sold a beachfront house in Foster City, California.

A financial expert interviewed by ABS-CBN News North America last year wondered how Arroyo got his mortgage approved when he purchased the Foster City property in 2006. 

Triguero is also a member of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce.

“He makes P455,000 a year. That would not even cover the property taxes on that property. How did they get a loan for $1 million? They would have to commit mortgaged fraud and claim that they had a $300,000 plus income in the United States, when of course he’s functioning as a congressman in the Philippines to qualify,” said James Triguero, a member of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce.

A company partly-owned by Arroyo later sold the house for $1.125 million to owners of the restaurant chain "Gerry’s Grill," according to Vera Files

The property was not allegedly listed in the annual statements of assets, liabilities, and net worth that Arroyo is required to disclose under the law.

The former President's son and his wife, Angela, are  also facing tax evasion charges filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Department of Justice.