Swiss approve handing back of US$683M in Marcos wealth to the Philippines

MANILA -- Swiss authorities have approved the handing over of US$683 million in bank accounts of the deposed Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos to the government, it was announced here Wednesday.

Swiss federal authorities informed their Philippine counterparts in a meeting in Zurich on Tuesday that the Supreme Court ruling awarding the money in Manila's favor last month fulfilled earlier conditions set by Switzerland for the transfer of the money.

The US$683 million including interest, represent the biggest known chunk of the Marcos assets that he allegedly stole from state coffers during his 20 years of mostly authoritarian rule.

The money was traced to Swiss bank accounts after a popular revolt in 1986 toppled Marcos from power and sent him into exile.

The Swiss courts previously agreed to have Marcos's money held in escrow in the Philippines until local courts made a final ruling on who was the real owner of the funds.

"The Philippines may now dispose of the Marcos assets," said a statement from the Swiss federal office of justice, released by the Philippine Gvernment here.

However, the Swiss government said that some US$10 million in Swiss deposits of known Marcos allies would remain frozen.

The Swiss have urged Manila to file criminal charges against the alleged Marcos cronies to prove that the US$10 million dollars that remains frozen, really belongs to government.

The government has accused Marcos and his cronies of looting billions of dollars from state coffers during the 20-year Marcos rule. Marcos died in exile in 1989 and never faced criminal charges.

The Supreme Court, ruling on the funds in escrow, ruled in July that Marcos could not have legally acquired the funds with his known lawful income, and awarded the funds to Manila. AFP


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