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Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos

Case Control Number: 
Description : 

According to a case study by the World Bank-UN Office on Drugs and Crime's Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative, "Ferdinand Marcos started accumulating his ill-gotten wealth in 1965, when he was first elected president. He was reelected four years later but declared Martial Law in September 1972, before his second term was completed. The Martial Law regime continued until February 1986, when Marcos was toppled by the so-called peaceful 'People Power Revolution.' He is estimated to have siphoned off between $5 and $10 billion. This ill-gotten wealth was accumulated through six channels: outright takeover of large private enterprises; creation of state-owned monopolies in vital sectors of the economy; awarding government loans to private individuals acting as fronts for Marcos or his cronies; direct raiding of the public treasury and government financial institutions; kickbacks and commissions from firms working in the Philippines; and skimming off foreign aid and other forms of international assistance. The proceeds were laundered through the use of shell corporations, which invested the funds in real estate inside the United States, or by depositing the funds in various domestic and offshore banks under pseudonyms, in numbered accounts or accounts with code names." According to a case study by Merceditas Gutierrez, Ombudsman, Republic of the Philippines, for an Asia Development Bank/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Pacific (2007), the Marcoses' ownership of properties in the U.S. was "legally structured and designed to conceal the interest of the Marcoses. Usually, the properties were owned by an offshore corporation which, in turn, was owned and controlled by Panamanian corporations. Ownership of these corporations is embodied in bearer shares, and the holders of these bearer shares controlled the corporations which held title to the properties." Arelma S.A., a Panamanian bearer share shell company was also used to hold a U.S. account at Merrill Lynch; the ownership of the $35 million "Arelma deposit" is currently being litigated.

Type of Illicit activity involving Public Official : 

Bribery, Embezzlement, Illicit Enrichment, Money Laundering

Impediments to investigation: 

Bearer shares companies; multiple corporate vehicle jurisdictions; multiple bank accounts and bank jurisdictions; fake names/alias; changed name of shell foundations; lawyers as trustees of foundations, chains of corporate vehicles

Most recent legal action against Public Official?: 
Other legal action/ other prosecutions: 
Country of Public Official: 
Salonga, Jovito R. Presidential Plunder: The Quest for the Marcos Ill-Gotten Wealth (Quezon City, Philippines: University of the Philippines Center for Leadership, Citizenship and Democracy & Regina Publishing Co., 2000) Republic of the Philippines (Petitioners) vs. Honorable Sandiganbayan (Special First Division), Ferdinand E. Marcos (represented by his estate/heirs: Imelda R. Marcos, Maria Imelda (Imee) Marcos-Manotoc, Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. and Irene Marcos-Araneta) and Imelda Romualdez Marcos (Respondents), G.R. No. 152154, July 15, 2003 The Republic of the Philippines, et al v. Pimentel, 128 S.Ct. 1280 (2008) World Bank/United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, StAR Initiative, "Challenges, Opportunities and Action Plan", accessed at http://siteresources.worldbank.org/NEWS/Resources/Star-rep-full.pdf Merceditas Gutierrez, Ombudsman, Republic of the Philippines, "Ferdinand E. Marcos (Philippines): A Case Study," published in the Asian Development Bank/Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asian and the Pacific, "Asset Recovery and Mutual Legal Assistance in Asia and the Pacific." Bali: ADB/OECD, 2007 pg 163 Marcelos, Simeon V. "The recovery of the Marcos Swiss dollar deposits." in Mark Pieth, ed., Recovering Stolen Assets (2008)
Position of Public Official during scheme: 
President (Ferdinand Marcos); Member of the Interim Batasang Pambansa from 1978-1984, Metro Manila Governor and Minister of Human Settlements from 1976 to 1986 (Imelda Marcos)
Is there a pending case or appeals?: 
Yes (Philippines, Singapore, United States: On-going civil asset recovery cases)
Money laundering Implicated?: