AMLC appeals Sandigan order to show PDAF probe records

MANILA, Philippines – The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) asked the Sandiganbayan to recall its February 21 resolution allowing pork barrel scam suspect Jinggoy Estrada and his lawyers to access AMLC's investigation records related to the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

The AMLC argued in its 15-page motion for reconsideration that Estrada's request includes confidential materials, internal communications among AMLC officials, and details of other people's bank deposits.

AMLC-Legal Services Group Acting Deputy Director Roland Villaluz and legal officer Joel Jimenez also said the order might "prematurely" reveal details of private bank accounts covered by ongoing investigations.

Estrada's lawyers want to scrutinize documents on Janet Lim Napoles' bank and other financial transactions to know how the AMLC arrived at its findings linking him to the alleged mastermind behind the multi-billion-peso pork barrel scam.

The anti-graft court in February sided with the former senator when it rejected the argument of the AMLC that it cannot submit records of Napoles' bank transactions that it had looked into because these are confidential.

But in its motion for reconsideration, the AMLC argued that Estrada's request can be determined from their inquiry report earlier submitted to the Sandiganbayan.

The report, the AMLC said, mentions all accounts that they looked into: bank transactions of both Napoles-linked non-governmental organizations and government implementing agencies, dates of these transactions, and amounts involved.

Irrelevant

The AMLC noted that the documents Estrada's lawyers want to scrutinize are irrelevant, since they are only recommendatory and hold no final ruling. Moreover, the documents contain information that could implicate individuals who are not involved in Estrada's plunder and graft cases.

"The memorandum sought to be produced does not only pertain to the investigation on Ms Napoles but also on other individuals who have no pending cases in court or are still subject of investigation. Necessarily, the memorandum would contain details of bank accounts and transactions of these other individuals," the AMLC explained.

According to the AMLC, accounts not involved in any litigation are protected by confidentiality under Republic Act 1405 or the Bank Secrecy Law.

It added, "The production in court of the AMLC memorandum containing such bank accounts and transactions would not only violate confidentiality but would also jeopardize the ongoing investigation of the AMLC."

The AMLC said they also received covered transactions reports (CTR) and suspicious transactions reports (STR) that are irrelevant as they are not about the pending case.

"When a covered person files a CTR or STR with the AMLC, the officers and employees of the reporting institution are prohibited from divulging the fact that such CTR or STR has been reported to AMLC. In fact, any officer or employee who violates said prohibition may be held criminally liable," the AMLC said.

The AMLC also argued that the subpoena duces tecum "is oppressive because it compels the AMLC to directly violate [existing rules]." – Rappler.com