MANILA - Malacañang on Thursday said it welcomes the United States’ indictment of alleged Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam key player Janet Lim Napoles for conspiring to funnel in and out of the US some $20 million in Philippine public funds obtained through a multi-year bribery and fraud scheme.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the indictment of Napoles and her relatives “bolsters the government’s case against her before the Sandiganbayan.”
“The charge of money laundering against Mrs. Napoles and her co-defendants shows that there is reason to believe that they attempted to retain the ill-gotten gains from the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam,” Roque said in a statement.
“With the help of US authorities, who have been in continuous coordination with our government, the funds that Mrs. Napoles and her co-defendants attempted to hide away will soon be returned for the benefit of the Filipino people.”
Roque said this development should boost efforts to charge all those who illegally profited from her transactions, regardless of their position or political affiliation.
Several lawmakers, including former senators Bong Revilla, Jinggoy Estrada and Juan Ponce Enrile, have been charged for allegedly pocketing millions in pork barrel funds.
The US Department of Justice said some $20 million in Philippine public funds were diverted to money remitters in the Philippines and then wired to Southern California bank accounts, where the money was used to purchase real estate, shares in 2 businesses and 2 Porsche Boxsters, and finance the living expenses of 3 family members in the US, Jeane Napoles and the Lims.
An audit discovered the fraud in September 2012. The fraud and the US proceeds were exposed in the Filipino press in July of the following year, the US justice department said.
Napoles was arrested in August 2013 and her family's bank accounts in the Philippines were frozen.
Approximately $12.5 million in the Napoles' Southern California real estate has been seized by the US Attorney's Office and is subject to a pending civil forfeiture case.
If the court orders the assets forfeited, the US will work with Philippine officials in an attempt to return the stolen funds back to the Philippine government, the US justice department said.
US authorities, it said, were coordinating with Manila's justice department, Office of the Ombudsman, Anti-Money Laundering Council, and the Commission on Audit.
Napoles remains behind bars for her plunder and graft cases before the Sandiganbayan in relation to the pork barrel scam.