Philippine court lifts San Miguel seizure

MANILA, Philippines -- A Philippine anti-graft court on Wednesday stripped the government of its 17-year hold on a controlling stake in the food and beverage giant San Miguel Corp. and returned it to an investor group led by likely presidential candidate Eduardo Cojuangco.

The Sandiganbayan anti-graft court lifted an order by the Presidential Commission on Good Government, which seized a 47 percent stake in San Miguel on allegations it was acquired by Cojuangco's group using funds for the development of the coconut industry.

Cojuangco's group has denied the claim, saying the shares were acquired using private funds.

The commission was created in 1986 to go after the ill-gotten wealth of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos and his associates, including Cojuangco.

The court placed limits on how Cojuangco's group could handle the shares since the government "continues to hold a claim on the shares which is yet to be resolved."

Cojuangco, who lost the 1992 presidential race, is considered a likely presidential candidate in May 2004 polls. He has said he would announce soon if he will run.

He said last month the Philippine government must refrain from intervening in business and improve security to spur investments.

08/10/2003

Bron : The Boston Globe

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