Imelda Marcos faces arrest

By Manny Mogato

MANILA (Reuters) - Former Philippine first lady Imelda Marcos, famous for her enormous shoe collection and extravagant shopping sprees, faces arrest when she returns to the country after staying away longer than she was allowed, an official says.

Marcos, facing dozens of criminal charges and civil lawsuits over allegations that she and late president Ferdinand Marcos salted away more than $5 billion (three billion pounds) during two decades in power, was allowed to leave last month for the United States and Europe on medical and religious grounds.

But Marcos had violated a court order that granted her only 30 days leave, Ruben Carranza, a senior officer of the state agency trying to track down the Marcos wealth, said on Wednesday.

She left on October 5 and had been due to return last Sunday.

"The courts could now order her arrest," Carranza told Reuters, saying the anti-graft court had rejected her lawyers' request for an extended visit to London until November 12.

"She is actually out on bail and the court can easily cancel her bail bond but we'll discuss our next move with the Office of the Ombudsman, which is handling the anti-graft cases."

He said Marcos's trip to Britain could be related to transactions involving the family's wealth because some Marcos deposits had been found to be under the name of a London-based associate.

In September, Marcos's lawyers had asked two divisions of an anti-graft court to allow her to see her doctor in United States and go to pilgrimage sites in France, Italy and Portugal for 30 days.

The government has been fighting an uphill legal battle to recover $700 million in funds in an escrow account at the Philippine National Bank that government investigators say was taken during Marcos's presidency.

Ferdinand Marcos was forced from power in 1986 by a popular uprising. He died in exile in Hawaii in 1989.


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