ALLEGED PORK BARREL-scandal mastermind Janet Lim Napoles and five members of her family were indicted Tuesday in the United States for money laundering and other charges, according to a statement from the US Department of Justice.
Ms. Napoles, 54, was accused by a federal grand jury “for conspiring to funnel in and out of the United States approximately $20 million in Philippine public funds obtained through a multi-year bribery and fraud scheme,” said the statement titled, “Six Filipinos Indicted for Domestic and International Money Laundering and Conspiracy for Multi-Year Bribery and Fraud Scheme.”
Also charged in the indictment for Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering, Domestic Money Laundering and International Money Laundering were Jo Christine Napoles, 34; James Christopher Napoles, 33; Jeane Catherine Napoles, 28; Reynald Luy Lim, 52; and Ana Marie Lim, 47.
The statement also said: Four defendants together with approximately 20 Philippines legislators and other government officials not charged in US indictments converted to their own benefit hundreds of millions of dollars in Philippine public funds through the intricate scheme and then transmitted approximately $20 million from that scheme into the United States to purchase assets, including real property and luxury vehicles.
The statement added: “The defendants fraudulently converted money from a lump-sum discretionary ‘Priority Development Assistance Fund’ granted to each member of the Philippines Congress as well as other government funds designed to benefit poor Filipinos.
The statement said further that the money was paid to dozens of non-governmental organizations controlled by Ms. Napoles, for “development projects (that)…were not performed. Instead, the money was diverted to kickbacks for the legislators and other government officials, and for the personal use of the Napoles family.”
“Approximately $20 million of those 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 two businesses, two Porsche Boxsters, and finance the living expenses of three family members residing in the United States: Jeane Napoles, Reynald Lim, and Ana Lim,” the statement also said.
“Even after Jannet (sic) Napoles made a highly publicized statement admitting that she had bribed Philippine legislators in connection with these ‘ghost projects,’ the defendants attempted to convert the proceeds of this crime to their own use,” US Attorney Nick Hanna said in the statement.
Court documents were also cited indicating that approximately $12.5 million in Southern California real estate has been seized by the US Attorney’s Office and is subject to a civil forfeiture case pending before United States District Judge James V. Selna.
The statement said the Department of Justice of the Philippines and also the Office of the Ombudsman, Anti-Money Laundering Council, and Commission on Audit continue to provide “substantial assistance” to US authorities, in line with the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the two countries and through the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
Last week, Ms. Napoles was denied bail regarding her cases in connection with the PDAF scam. She was also indicted for her alleged role in the 2004 fertilizer fund scam.
Her brother Ronald and her children Jo Christine and James Christopher face 97 counts of graft and malversation of public funds in connection with the Malampaya fund scam. — with Gillian M. Cortez