Ombudsman eyes forfeiture case vs Corona

Report by Danny Buenafe, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Sep 04 2012 09:40 AM | Updated as of Sep 04 2012 09:28 PM

LONDON (UPDATED) – The financial woes of ousted Chief Justice Renato Corona are far from over.

After being sued for tax evasion by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the former chief justice could also face a forfeiture of assets charge from the Office of the Ombudsman.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales was a keynote speaker at the 30th International Symposium on Economic Crime at the Jesus College of the University of Cambridge.

She told delegates that the truth is still the best weapon to stave off corruption and weed out corrupt government officials.

Morales welcomed the filing of tax evasion charges by the BIR against Corona, his daughter and son-in-law.

"The BIR came up with this tax evasion case on the basis of documents that showed that the ex-chief justice had all these amounts, including his...daughter and son-in-law. They had so much, to purchase these properties but records did not show they had the means or at least they paid taxes for these properties," she told ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau.

She said she is also pursuing a case for forfeiture of assets against Corona. She said she wants to collate certified true copies of documents from different agencies that will certainly merit a preliminary investigation.

"We have to get certified true copies of documents which we think we need in the final evaluation of our case. So if it is necessary and we conclude it, then we will subject him to preliminary investigation," she said.

The Ombudsman said filing of the case may not proceed for now due to the 1-year ban related to the 2013 May election.

Morales reacts to Sereno appointment

For the first time, Morales also gave her reaction to the appointment of Maria Lourdes Sereno as the new chief justice. Morales is a former member of the High Court and cousin of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio.

Reacting to Sereno’s appointment, she said: “It’s a given that all nominees are competent.”

“We leave it to the President. He has the prerogative to appoint. Let’s respect his decision,” she added.

Morales also believes they have a strong case against former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who is facing charges of plunder. Mrs. Arroyo was charged with plunder for the misuse of P366 million in Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) funds.

"I would like to believe we are on the right track. I am not saying that this early, we are already successful. We are trying our best. We are at least going up the stairs of getting to the bottom of these things and at least we find some people indicted," she said.