MANILA, Sept 5 (Mabuhay) – The Anti-Money Laundering Council is trying to track down bank accounts owned by Janet Lim Napoles, the alleged mastermind of the multi-billion peso pork barrel scam.
AMLC executive director Julia Bacay-Abad said they are now coordinating with foreign law enforcement agencies because some financial transactions may have been done outside the country. But she declined to elaborate on the extent of the investigation.
“We have asked the assistance of our counterparts and of foreign law enforcement agencies, just like in our other cases – because there’s always a possibility that transactions are being made outside the Philippines so there’s really a need for international cooperation,” she told reporters after the AMLC budget hearing at the Senate.
She noted more bank accounts may be linked to Napoles because of the huge amount of money involved.
She said the bank accounts of lawmakers may also be frozen, if proven they are engaged in money-laundering activities.
“I said ‘any person who would be identified as involved in any unlawful activity’,” she said.
Abad explained that they had to freeze all other bank accounts that had dealt with Napoles, not just Janet’s personal bank accounts. But she refused to confirm reports if these bank accounts have been emptied already, as previously reported.
She also refused to divulge if they have been coordinating with the whistleblowers who are currently with the NBI. “ If there’s a determination that the subject bank account is involved in money laundering activities, then any account related to it should be included in the petition and frozen as well,” Abad said.
Though Abad cannot give a specific time frame for the investigation to be completed, she assured it is their top priority.
But she admitted that they have limited resources and manpower, and she’s not sure if they can request for additional teams from the Monetary Board for them to do what needs to be done.
“We have limited number of investigators and lawyers but we will try our best to do our task, what is mandated of us,” she added.
AMLC’s budget for 2014 has been decreased from P40 million to P28 million. AMLC gets a part of its budget from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. (MNS)