Napoles barred from accessing assets indefinitely

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Thursday, April 3, 2014

MANILA (Updated) -- A Manila judge has indefinitely frozen the assets of detained businesswoman Janet Napoles, her family and others allegedly involved in the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) scam.

Covered by the asset preservation order (APO) issued by Judge Marino dela Cruz Jr. of the Manila Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 22 are money instruments, bank accounts, real properties, motor vehicles and other assets of Napoles and her husband Jaime, their children Jo Christine, James Christopher, Jeane Catherine, Jane Catherine, and John Christian.

"[T]he evidence of respondents Janet Napoles, Jo Christine this stage of the proceedings, failed to overcome the probable cause finding of the Court that their bank accounts and other properties are linked to the predicate crimes alleged in the petition and to prove their claim that the funds in the bank and the properties subject of the provisional asset preservation order (Papo), were legitimately acquired," stated the order dated March 25.

Also seized were the assets of Napoles' non-government organizations (NGOs), which received pork barrel funds, main whistleblower Benhur Luy, Arthur Luy, Gertrudes Luy and Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Zenaida Ducut, among other individuals.

For other respondents not covered by the APO like Napoles' brother Reynald Lim and socialite Ruby Tuason, the Court said they still cannot access their bank accounts and properties due to the 20-day Papo issued last February 26.

The Court said Lim and Tuason have yet to receive a copy of the Papo because they cannot be located. Lim remains in hiding after he was named as Napoles' co-accused in the serious illegal detention case filed by Luy.

Tuason, who is set to return from abroad on April 5, is a co-respondent in the plunder charges being pushed by the Office of the Ombudsman against Napoles and Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Jinggoy Estrada and Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. before the Sandiganbayan.

Her application for state witness has yet to be endorsed by the Ombudsman following her revelation that she was a "go-between" for Napoles, the alleged scam architect, and Senators Estrada and Enrile.

The freeze order will stay until the resolution of the forfeiture case filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

Luy earlier asked the court to lift the freeze order on his assets, claiming he is immune from forfeiture proceedings under the Witness Protection Program (WPP).

The court however reminded Luy that the said benefit is only applicable to criminal cases.

"On the claim/defense of respondent [Benhur Luy] that his admission to the Witness Protection Program renders him immune from criminal prosecution and cannot be subjected to any penalty or forfeiture is misplaced," dela Cruz said.

Luy's assets include cash deposits at the Bank of the Philippine Islands, Metrobank and United Coconut Planters Bank, 2007 model Eastworld Mox motorcycle, 2010 model Mitsubishi Montero Sport G and 2004 model Toyota Corolla Altis. (Sunnex)

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