[box type=”default” size=”large”] Where did she hide plundered ‘pork barrel’ fund? [/box]MANILA – While it was preparing criminal charges against alleged “pork barrel” scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, the Philippine government is itching to get its hands on offshore properties and other assets of the controversial businesswoman whose companies allegedly siphoned off about P10 billion of the lawmakers’ Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Bureau of Internal Revenue chief Kim Henares have confirmed reports that the government is now making inquiries with their counterparts in the United States and other countries where the Napoles and her family may have properties and investments.
“Our next target is to run after those assets overseas. We are availing ourselves of existing mechanisms,” De Lima said.
In a press conference held recently at the Department of Justice, Henares said the BIR investigation on the properties of the Napoleses in the US started as soon as reports on the “pork barrel” scam broke out, which was more than a month ago.
Henares said the BIR has sent notices to Napoles and her family informing them of the investigation as well as deficiencies in their tax payments. These were based on statements made by whistleblowers and news reports they have multi-million dollar offshore accounts, on top of the high-end apartments and vehicles their family supposedly owns.
Napoles and husband Jaime have four children – Christine, James, Christian and Jeane — who reportedly live in the Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles, California.
Henares said Napoles’s brother Reynald Lim reportedly has an account at the Bank of America in San Diego, California.
A certain Jose Lim, believed to be a close relative of Napoles, also has an account at Wells Fargo in Pasadena, California, while another account in Wells Fargo, Orange County allegedly belongs to Western Investment Corp., a company said to be owned by the Napoles family.
The Napoleses were able to purchase a hotel in California worth $7 million and a $2-million condominium unit at the Ritz Carlton in Los Angeles, it was reported.
“Madali lang i-check ang foreign properties ng mga Napoles. We are coordinating with foreign governments, kasi sa foreign government, pati bank accounts ay pwede namin makuha dito. If she has business abroad, mas malaki ang problema niya because the US taxes you in a global manner,” Henares said.
She further said that many of the properties and assets of Napoles and her family in the country (Philippines) turned out to be registered in the names of other people and that the BIR is still in the process of verifying information.
“We’re trying to find out sino ba mga may-ari nito, kung kaya ba ng income nila, kung nagbayad ba sila ng taxes. I’m not saying magnanakaw siya (Napoles), pero kung gagawa ako ng isang (illegal) bagay, siyempre I will hide my tracks. Maaring naitago niya pero sa kayabangan nila, kaya lumalabas,” Henares said.
Napoles is being detained in Fort Sto. Domingo in Sta. Rosa, Laguna for a case of serious illegal detention filed by a former aide. (With Malaya report)