Thirty years later, the PCGG is still working, its 94 lawyers, researchers and administrators housed proudly in a building recovered from the Marcos family. The government gives it an annual budget of $2.2m. Its staff have traced money through jurisdictions all over the world and fought their way through hundreds of court cases. And yet something has gone terribly wrong: to date, the PCGG has recovered only a fraction of what was stolen by the Marcos network; no one has served a prison sentence for their part in the crime…….
Above all, the banks acted like a network of dykes receiving his ocean of income. Bank staff would make regular – sometimes weekly – trips to the palace, to pick up cheques and bundles of cash, which were then deposited in dozens of accounts. The millions were then channelled into Marcos’s expanding reservoir of offshore accounts (he had 69 in Switzerland alone). Then all he and Imelda had to do was turn on the taps anywhere in the world and cash would come pouring out; cash that had been washed clean of its connection to crime……..
Now, with its task still far from complete, its survival is threatened by a political development that would never have been anticipated by the crowds who swelled the streets in triumph as Marcos fled. The former president’s son, Ferdinand Marcos Jr, generally known as “Bongbong”, is a frontrunner to become vice-president in the national elections on 9 May. If he wins, he would have the power to shut down the PCGG, as political allies of his family have tried to do in the past. The world’s biggest thief will have won………
The men and women who work at the PCGG are driven by an anger. Each day they discover more detail of this crime, while its victims sleep on the pavements and in the slums around them. They are well aware of what the money could do for the impoverished people of the Philippines: if Marcos stole $10bn, this would have paid for the entire government budget for his last year in power three times over. And so they want not only to retrieve the stolen money, but to restore it. It is not easy. The Marcoses, with their money and their connections, have always been in the lead…….
The court heard that some part had been played by Adnan Khashoggi, the notorious Saudi arms dealer…….
There were reports that the White House was leaning on the prosecutors to go soft, that there was too much potential embarrassment for the last five US presidents…….
Presidential Commission on Good Government – Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. = Bongbong Marcos – Golden Lily –