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Philippines Wins Control of $650M of Illegal Marcos Fortune - 2003-07-15

The Philippines' highest court has granted the government control of more than half a billion dollars owned by the family of former leader Ferdinand Marcos. This the largest amount the Philippine government has recovered from the billions of dollars the Marcos family is accused of illegally acquiring.

The $650 million the Philippine Supreme Court awarded to the government Tuesday had been recovered from secret Swiss bank accounts.

It is the largest amount the government has recovered from the family of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

"The Philippine Supreme Court basically said that the Swiss deposits, which were transferred and now deposited in escrow in the Philippine National Bank, are forfeited in favor the Philippine government," said court spokesman Conrad Tolentino. "These were the estimated total deposits that were identified as ill-gotten wealth by the Marcoses."

The ruling puts an end to questions over who would control the funds, after an anti-graft court ruled last year that there was not enough evidence to prove they were illegally acquired.

The accounts were under the name of six Swiss foundations. A Swiss court in 1997 allowed the funds to be transferred to the Philippines but required the government to prove that the money was from illegal sources before it could be awarded to the government.

Former President Ferdinand Marcos and his family allegedly stole billions of dollars in public money during his 20 year rule.

Mr. Marcos' presidency marked one of the darkest periods in the country's history, with numerous allegations of human rights violations and corruption.

Mr. Marcos was toppled by a popular uprising in 1986 and went into exile in the United States. He died a few years later, without admitting any wrongdoing. His family was allowed to return to the Philippines in the late 1990s and faced criminal charges. None of them have been convicted.