Bong's bank records support kickback claim

by Kathlyn dela Cruz, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Oct 09 2014 09:05 PM | Updated as of Oct 10 2014 06:09 PM

AMLC sees indications of money laundering scheme

Rep. Lani Mercado's realty firm got deposits, too

Bank accounts terminated after scandal erupted

MANILA - The bank records of detained Senator Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. show that he deposited huge amounts of money within a month after allegedly receiving millions in kickbacks from his transactions with Janet Lim Napoles.

According to a report of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) submitted to the Office of the Ombudsman, the bank deposits and investments made by Revilla, his wife Cavite Representative Lani Mercado, and their children amounted to P87,626,587.63 from April 6, 2006 to April 28, 2010.

The AMLC noted this was the same period that pork barrel scam whistleblower Benhur Luy indicated in his ledger that Revilla received commissions or rebates from his transactions with Napoles involving his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) or pork barrel.

Revilla, who is detained at the Philippine National Police (PNP) Custodial Center in Camp Crame, is facing one count of plunder and 16 counts of graft before the Sandiganbayan.

He is accused of pocketing P224,512,500 in kickbacks from his PDAF, which he allegedly funneled to bogus non-government organizations (NGOs) of Napoles.

"Between 6 April 2006 to 28 April 2010, Revilla and his immediate family made numerous deposits to their various bank accounts and placed investments totaling Php 87,626,587.63 within 30 days from the dates mentioned in Benhur Luy's ledger when Revilla, through [Richard] Cambe, allegedly received commissions or rebated to his PDAF in cash," the AMLC said in its report.

Cambe is the former chief of staff of Revilla and a co-accused in the case. He is also detained at the PNP Custodial Center.

Testifying in the continuation of Revilla's bail hearing on Thursday, Leigh Vhon Santos, who is part of the AMLC team tasked to look into the bank transactions of the senator, said they saw indications of a money laundering scheme.

Santos noted that there were disparities between Revilla's bank records and Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) from 2006 to 2010, the years he allegedly endorsed the implementation of projects funded by his PDAF through Napoles' fake NGOs.

Revilla allegedly funneled his pork barrel funds to five of Napoles' 20 NGOs: Agri & Economic Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (AEPFFI), Agricultura Para sa Magbubukid Foundation Inc. (APMFI), Masaganang Ani Para sa Magsasaka Foundation Inc. (MAMFI), Philippine Social Development Foundation Inc. (PSDFI), and Social Development Program for Farmers Foundation Inc. (SDPFFI).

MONEY LAUNDERING SCHEME

According to the AMLC, Revilla and his family made deposits and placed investments within 30 days from the dates stated by Luy in his ledger.

It noted that the interval between the receipt and initial deposit of cash is an integral indication of a money laundering scheme since the money, which is in cash, is still close to its alleged illegal origins.

On August 10, 2007, for example, the ledger of Luy claimed that Revilla, through Cambe, received P3 million in kickbacks.

On August 13, 2007, or just three days after the alleged receipt of Cambe of the money, P2 million in cash was deposited to Revilla's Metropolitan Bank & TCO account.

On the same day, a P1 million investment management account placement was also made in the senator's Chinatrust CBC account.

On October 6, 2009, Luy's ledger showed that Revilla allegedly received a total of P20 million in three tranches -- P9 million, P9 million, and P2 million.

By October 27, 2009, or 21 days after the alleged receipt of the money, a total of P17.7 million in cash was deposited in Revilla's RCBC and AUB accounts in six tranches.

SALN VS BANK RECORDS

The AMLC said it is also important to note that Revilla did not declare any cash on hand or deposit in banks in his SALN in 2006.

This, despite his bank records showing that he had deposits amounting to P1.75 million that year.

In 2007, Revilla declared a total of P3 million cash and deposits. However, the inflows to his accounts that year amounted to almost P18 million, the AMLC added.

The case was also the same in the years 2008 and 2009, it said.

In 2008 and 2009, the senator declared a total of P6.4 million and P6.5 million, respectively, in cash and deposits in his SALN.

But the total inflows to his accounts for those years amounted to almost P16.1 million and P24.1 million, respectively.

Moreover, the AMLC also discovered that the Nature Concepts Development and Realty Corp., which is controlled by Revilla's wife, Lani Mercado, received a total of P27.745 million through deposits during the period "when it apparently has no operations."

The period the corporation received the huge amounts of money, which was from 2007 to 2010, was also again the same period Luy alleged that Revilla received kickbacks from his anomalous transactions with Napoles.

"Despite the insubstantial capital, it received substantial amounts through deposit totaling Php 27,745,000, most of which amount-wise were done proximate to the time Cambe received cash from Luy, and during the period when it apparently has no operations," the AMLC said in its report.

CLOSURE OF ACCOUNTS

According to the AMLC, it is also noteworthy that Revilla terminated his investments and bank accounts "immediately before and after the PDAF scandal circulated in the media."

"Considering all the foregoing, there are indications of money laundering scheme using the aforementioned bank accounts," it said.

"There is, however, a need to conduct further investigation to determine the extent of the subjects' participation and identify the other monetary instruments that were possible involved in the laundering scheme," the AMLC added.

REVILLA CAMP: AMLC'S REPORT NOT CONCLUSIVE

Meanwhile, the prosecution is confident that the findings of AMLC are the evidence they need to directly link Revilla to the multibillion-peso pork barrel scam.

"Yan na ang pinakamagandang kumpirmasyon dun sa mga sinabi ni Luy na pagbibigay ng kumisyon," Justice Undersecretary Jose Justiniano said.

However, the camp of Revilla insisted that the findings of AMLC are still not conclusive.

"I haven't read the report in its entirety. Pero at first glance, I am very sure that it is not conclusive," Revilla's lawyer, Jeffrey Zarate, said. -- With a report from Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News