(UPDATED – 6:38 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines — Despite the Anti-Money Laundering Council’s denial that it had already provided the Office of the Ombudsman with copies of the bank transactions of President Rodrigo Duterte and his family, the agency’s head practically countered AMLC’s claim, saying her office had already obtained the papers needed for investigating the first family’s alleged hidden wealth.
“As to the documents in its possession, the office stands by its word,” said Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales in a statement issued Friday, without elaborating but apparently reacting to AMLC’s statement Thursday night that it had not yet released Duterte and his family’s financial records to the Ombudsman’s office.
Recently, overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang said the agency had secured from the AMLC copies of Duterte and his family’s bank transaction records. He also said that based on documents from the AMLC, the President and his relatives’ bank transactions through the years amounted to over P1 billion.
Moreover, Carandang said the documents that Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV had attached to his May 2016 plunder complaint against Duterte were roughly similar to the AMLC’s records.
But on Thursday, the AMLC said that while Carandang had requested the council through a Sept. 6 letter to look into the bank records of the the first family, the agency said that, “We have yet to evaluate the request, and the initiation of an investigation as well as the release of any report on the subject will depend on such evaluation.”
While saying that it had not yet evaluated the ombudsman’s request, it was apparent from the AMLC’s statement that it had already conducted an assessment of Trillanes’ attachment to his complaint, containing the alleged bank transactions of Duterte and his kin.
In the same statement it issued Thursday, the AMLC said Trillanes’ allegations about Duterte’s supposed total bank transactions were erroneous.
“Suffice it to state that in the attachment to the complaint, the alleged debits and credits representing outflows and inflows of funds were added together, thus, the resulting total amounts are wrong and misleading,” the council said.
Days before last year’s national elections, Trillanes, then a vice presidential bet, filed a plunder complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against then presidential candidate Duterte, alleging that he had P2.4 billion worth of bank transactions.
Trillanes claimed Duterte could have amassed his alleged hidden wealth from hiring thousands of Davao City ghost employees.
He cited in his complaint the Commission on Audit’s 2015 report that there were 11,246 contractual workers in 2014, who were paid a total of P708 million and assigned to the office of the Davao mayor. The COA raised concern over the absence of documents proving that the said workers were actually performing their jobs.
After Duterte ordered the AMLC last February to produce records showing his net worth, Trillanes asked the council to release the same but the council rejected the senator’s request.
In its March 29, 2017 letter to Trillanes, the AMLC said Duterte’s verbal order was not enough for the council to release the President’s financial records.
“Without an authorized bank inquiry, the AMLC is in no position to have in its possession the bank records of, or to disclose, the bank transactions of anyone,” said AMLC officer-in-charge Mel Georgie Racela.
On Thursday, the council reiterated that it “is not the source of the documents and information attached by” Trillanes IV in his complaint against Duterte.