MANILA - Relatives of detained businesswoman and alleged ‘pork barrel’ scam architect Janet Lim Napoles may be extradited to the United States, provided that they are not facing charges in the Philippines, said Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday.
This, after Napoles and her family were indicted by a US federal grand jury for conspiracy to commit domestic and international money laundering.
“Those (indicted Napoles kin) who are here and not facing charges in Philippine courts may be the subject of a request for extradition; those who are in the US may be immediately arrested,” Guevarra said in a text message.
Indicted along with Napoles are her children Jo Christine, James Christopher, and Jeane Catherine; brother Reynald Luy Lim, and sister-in-law Ana Marie Lim.
Napoles has been charged with several plunder and graft charges in Philippine anti-graft court, the Sandiganbayan, in connection with the scam.
The US Department of Justice said Napoles and family, along with 20 Filipino lawmakers not charged in the U.S., diverted “hundreds of millions of dollars” in Philippine priority development assistance funds (PDAF) to kickbacks divided among lawmakers, other public officials, and the Napoles family.
It added that US $20-million were diverted to Philippine money remitters and subsequently transmitted to Southern California bank accounts. Funds were used to purchase real-estate properties, shares in two businesses, two Porsche Boxters, and sustained the lifestyle of the Napoles children.
Guevarra has yet to receive a copy of the formal indictment.
“From what I know, there is a separate case for civil forfeiture in the US that will trigger the return of the laundered money to the Philippines. However, that forfeiture case will have to await the outcome of the money laundering and other fraud cases against Napoles and her family," he said.
Guevarra said two options are available concerning Napoles’ possible extradition to the US:
(1) defer extradition proceedings until the Philippine case is terminated and/or she has served her sentence
(2) temporarily surrender her to the requesting state so that she may be prosecuted there, subject to terms and conditions as may be agreed upon by the Philippines and the U.S.
The US has to file a formal request for the Philippine justice department to commence extradition proceedings in a domestic court. The court determines whether Napoles is extraditable.
The multi-billion peso ‘pork barrel’ scam involved the funneling of some P10-billion in lawmakers’ PDAF to bogus non-government organizations and foundations affiliated with Napoles.
Apart from Napoles, several senators, congressmen, and other government officials were also indicted in connection with the modus.