The Valentine's Day caper - Part 5

The Sting

On 6 February, Jacobi and his lawyer David Chaikin met with German authorities in Dnsseldorf informing them of Irene's plan.

By 7 February, from Manila where they met Guiyab, Reyes, and the Aranetas, the Americans arrived in Dnsseldorf via Frankfurt.

When Irene and Greggy arrived from Manila, the German authorities informed the money laundering compliance personnel at Deutsche Bank in Dnsseldorf.

Edna Guiyab, (popularly known as Edna Camcam, is a long-standing friend of Marcos' Armed Forces Chief of Staff Fabian Ver), her son Junjun Camcam, and Atty. Reyes arrived in Dusseldorf on 10 February.

Imelda Marcos, mother of Irene, and wife of Ferdinand, was kept in the dark regarding this transaction at the request of Irene herself.

After Irene opened the account on 12 February, and issued transfer instructions of 14 February, they waited for the money to arrive over the following Monday.

IMA GreggyfaceWhen the Swiss funds did not arrive on Monday, 19 February, Irene and Greggy panicked and instructed Camcam and Reyes to find out what happened.

In the meantime, that day, Camcam nagged the American facilitators who in turn nagged Jacobi and Chaikin as to why the money did not arrive.

Jacobi then led the chief American facilitator to believe that UBS could have been warned of the transfer, and in true spy story fashion, hinted that the other American facilitator could have done it. It is said that the chief American facilitator apparently believed that his associate had double-crossed them.

A few weeks before the Valentine's Day rendezvous, this associate had begun to distrust his chief because he thought the latter was trying to get a bigger commission for himself.

It was at this time that they decided to lie low for a few weeks, thus the reason for cancelling the instructions to transfer money from UBS.

The details behind this double-crossing, the arguments over money-sharing in front of bank officials who the parties did not know were aware of the whole affair, is, however, another story.

Largest money laundering attempt ever

On 14 March, the Landeskriminalamt-NRW - a German state investigative body - sent out a press release announcing that it is providing support to Dusseldorf prosecutors investigating the alleged attempt by Irene and Greggy to launder funds in Switzerland through Deutsche Bank. German authorities have frozen the accounts.

Deutsche Bank did not execute Irene's instructions because all the time they were just playing their part of the script, in full cooperation with the German authorities.

Irene should not have expected this transaction was going to be easy. IMA IrenefaceIn the first place, UBS was bound by the Philippine government's request to the Swiss government to report any Marcos assets. Therefore, activating the account by transferring funds from it at the instruction of a Marcos family member would have been recognition of such bank account, therefore a discovery that has to be reported. UBS could not have executed the transfer without violating this agreement.

In the second place, if the funds found their way into German jurisdiction, a whole new legal battle would have ensued under German jurisprudence. In this scenario, Irene may have a chance of recovering this money because the Philippine government has to prove under German law that the money is ill-gotten.

Legally, since banking litigations are almost always document-based, it may be impossible for the Philippine government to provide documents that are acceptable under German law to prove that Irene's wealth originated from criminal activities.

It must be noted that even in the Philippines, the assets of Marcos and his cronies that the PCGG sequestered in 1986, after the United States moved Marcos to Hawaii, are still under litigation notwithstanding the fact that the judges, lawyers, and witnesses have all endured 20 years of Marcos. In other words, the PCGG has not yet proven that the sequestered assets of these cronies are ill-gotten.

Theoretically, it would have been easier to confiscate these assets in the Philippines but after 15 years these cases have not been resolved. How can German law be expected to help confiscate Irene's assets when the Germans do not know Marcos as well as the Filipinos?

At present, Irene and Greggy are missing, and so are the lawyers who helped them. The Marcos group has been caught in flagrante delicto this time, at the insistence of the bounty hunter Jacobi, who over the years sounded like only a voice in the wilderness.

Nobody believed him because $13.2 billion is an incredible amount for a single account, although several sources swear this is small change compared to what is still hidden out there, and they have documents to prove it.

When contacted by FinanceAsia for this article, the Swiss bank stuck to its recurring theme. Regarding the existence or non-existence of account 885931, Christoph Meier of UBS in Basel, Switzerland told us: "We don't comment on specific transactions as a matter of principle."

Altogether, the Marcoses cannot deny their wealth this time. Their acts are an admission that such an account exists. In legal parlance, they are now under estoppel. And the Deutsche Bank camera never lies.


The Valentine's Day caper