Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II denounced the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC), accusing the agency of dragging its feet and not fully cooperating with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in helping the government investigate bank accounts of the five police generals named by President Rodrigo Duterte of involvement in illegal drug trade.
“They (AMLC) can apply for a freeze order. I don’t know why they did not,” Aguirre said.
AMLC’s mandate includes investigating on its own so-called suspicious transactions and covered transactions.
Banks are also by law required to immediately inform the AMLC of any suspicious transactions from P500,000 upwards.
The agency may also apply before the Court of Appeals an ex-parte (an application of one party alone) petition for the freezing of any monetary instrument or property alleged to be laundered or proceeds from unlawful activities.
The AMLC has forwarded to the NBI bank documents related to the five police generals after Duterte gave them an ultimatum.
Aguirre said the NBI made the request to the AMLC as early as September 19 but only gave the documents after Duterte’s warning two months after. He added that the date on the cover letter of the document was handwritten.
“It means it (the document) was already ready but for some reason they (AMLC) did notsubmit it to us until the President made that speech,” Aguirre said.
On the NBI’s 22 month old request to the AMLC, Aguirre said AMLC has complied but only partially.”We are still waiting for them to respond,” he said.
AMLC met with Aguirre and committed to meet with him on a regular basis but after their meeting immediately after Duterte’s warning, Aguirre said the AMLC officials have yet to meet with him again.
Aguirre also last Tuesday, said he is already studying possibility of filing an obstruction of justice case against at least AMLC members. He also said that two of the ranking AMLC officials—the second to the Executive Director and its Chief investigator are fraternity brothers of Sen. Leila de Lima, a former Justice secretary under the Aquino administration.
The AMLC is chaired by BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. Its members include heads of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Insurance Commissio and the AMLC’s executive director is Julia Bacay-Abad.
Aguirre started the ball rolling when he asked on Tuesday the NBI to look into the possibility of initiating an obstruction of justice complaint against the AMLC officials.
The Justice chief has been complaining that the AMLC had been making it difficult for authorities to secure vital bank information in relation to the illegal drug trade inside the New Bilibid Prison (NBP whose convicts had testified during the congressional probe on this issue, in aid of legislation.
Through the NBP prisoners during the probe, other persons were named, such as Senator de Lima having collected from the convicts in the NBP drug trade, through her alleged bagman, her driver-lover Ronnie Dayan.
Then came the arrest of the drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, who also testified that he had given P8 million in five tranches to de Lima through Dayan. He also named several police officials whom he alleged received payola from him.
After Dayan was arrested by the PNP, he was brought before the House of Representatives and questioned on his having collected from Kerwin drug money for his then boss, de Lima.
Having heard the testimonies of the two and with the foot dragging of the AMLC, Aguirre said: “I am trying to ask the NBI to study if there could be a complaint to be filed (against AMLC people) because I believe, and this is my personal opinion, that there is criminal negligence on the part of some people,” he saud.
He named one of two officials, Deputy Director Vincent Salido and the agency’s chief investigator whom he did not identify, saying they belonged to the Lambda Rho Beta fraternity and are fraternity brothers of de Lima, who is a Lambda Rho Sigma sorority sister.
De Lima stands accused of protecting drug syndicates inside the national penitentiary.
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Aguirre , in the House odering de Lima to refute allegations that she interfered in the chamber’s probe on the illegal drug trade inside the NBP said it was proper.
“I think it’s proper. That (show cause order) should be done because it was done by de Lima in her private capacity,” Aguirre said late Tuesday, referring to her efforts to prevent Dayan from attending the House hearing.
“And so the House could cite her in contempt not as a member of the Senate but as a private person interfering with the proceedings of the House,” he added
De Lima had already confirmed telling Dayan, through his daughter Hannah Mae, to hide and snub the subpoena issued by the House panel but said it was only an advice.
The neophyte said she was not “obstructing justice” when she brought up the option to Dayan, but was actually “obstructing persecution.”
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez meanwhile said yesterday that de Lima appears to be trying to get public sympathy by laying down a scenario where she would be arrested or killed for defying a House show cause order, GMA online news reported.
De Lima earier said she was already preparing for the two “worst case scenarios” that might befall her due to the Duterte administration’s drug accusations against her: that she would either end up in jail or she would be killed.
She us merely seeking public sympathy, Alvarez said in an interview with Arnold Clavio on “Unang Hirit.”
Alvarez was quoted as saying that he could tell De Lima won’t stop at nothing to evade being investigated by the House of Representatives.
“This person (de Lima) is very scheming,” he said, finding it unuual for de Lima not to ask Kerwin Espinosa questions especially since she is known to heavily interrogate witnesses or resource speakers during legislative inquiries.
Espinosa and Dayan are scheduled to appear before a Senate probe, led by Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
De Lima earlier said that she will not question Dayan or Espinosa during the Senate probe.
“That is not the nature of Senator de Lima not to question witnesses, Alvarez stressed during the same PTV program.
“The moment one (a accussed) fears confronting the person accusing you, that can only mean that by questioning and ocnfronting her accusers,there is fear that more will be bared that will bury her,” the Speaker said. With GMA newsoline