MANILA – The United States government has turned over to the Philippines the second tranche of the proceeds from the forfeited assets of former military comptroller Carlos Garcia, the Office of the Ombudsman said.
In a statement, the Office of the Ombudsman said the US Treasury turned over a check in the amount of $1,384,940.28 (about P61.8 million) to the Philippine government.
The amount represents the net proceeds resulting from the sale of a condominium unit at The Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York and the funds from two accounts maintained in Citibank, New York.
The Ombudsman said the funds from the two accounts were traced by investigators of the US Department of Homeland Security to be part of the laundered properties of Garcia.
''This milestone in asset recovery sends the message across that raiders of public coffers can no longer hide their unexplained wealth; they cannot hide their dummy bank accounts, wherever located; and they cannot hide from the long arm of the law,'' Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said.
The Office of the Ombudsman earlier charged Garcia with perjury, money laundering, and plunder.
Garcia was convicted of perjury. In the last two criminal cases, he pleaded to the lesser offenses of indirect bribery and facilitating money laundering.
The plea bargaining deal he sealed with government lawyers in 2010 resulted in Garcia agreeing to return P135 million of the P303 million he allegedly plundered.
The deal is now the subject of a review by the Supreme Court and forfeiture proceedings are pending with the Sandiganbayan.
The US government in 2012 initially turned over $100,000 to the Philippine government. This amount represents cash seized by US Customs authorities from Garcia's two sons upon their entry in California in December 2003.
US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg said the US government is pleased to assist the Philippine government in its crusade against corruption.
''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,'' Goldberg said.
''Since retiring from the Supreme Court to serve as the Ombudsman, Justice Morales has been tireless in the investigation and prosecution of public corruption cases. The United States is very pleased to be able to assist Ombudsman Morales and her office whenever possible.," he added.