The Philippines on Wednesday said it is seeking to recoup $12.5 million in assets from suspect “pork barrel” mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles as the United States attempts to seize her possessions.
The US Justice Department filed a civil forfeiture complaint on Tuesday to gain control of assets purchased in the US with money intended for development and disaster relief in a case dubbed the “pork barrel scam.”
They include a swanky Los Angeles condominium, a motel near Disneyland and a Porsche Boxster that Napoles allegedly bought for her daughter using aid funds.
Manila is helping its US counterpart in the effort to seize the assets, Philippine Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said.
“If and when they succeed, [Manila] will request that the money be turned over to us,” she added.
The complaint filed in a Los Angeles Federal District Court alleged that Napoles paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes to Filipino politicians and officials from 2004 to 2012 to get $200 million in funds, which were supposed to help poor Filipinos.
The organizations that Napoles ran did not deliver the services, and she took the money for her own personal use, the Justice department said.
Napoles, who is already in jail for kidnapping her cousin in 2014, has been charged along with family members in the corruption case.
Three opposition senators–Juan Ponce Enrile, Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Jose
“Jinggoy” Estrada–have been detained and charged in connection with the scam.
“It is US policy to keep no share of stolen money… It is possible they will turn over the entire amount to us,” de Lima said.
She added that a similar mechanism had been applied after former military comptroller, Maj. Gen. Carlos Garcia, was found in 2010 to have stashed millions of dollars in military funds in the US.
“We support this action on the part of the US based on their law,” de Lima said.
Authorities are concurrently seeking to recover Napoles’ assets that have been hidden or invested in the Philippines, she added.
The cases, however, are still pending in court, de Lima said.
Napoles’ lawyer, Steven Uy, said he did not know how the US calculated the amount of $12.5 million, telling radio station dzBB that some of these assets had already been sold.
“I know we have a legal team there to answer that. It will eventually come out in the court that they [Napoles family] legally own it,” Uy added.