Antonio Tiu files P100-M damage suit vs AMLC

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Businessman Antonio Tiu, accused of being a dummy for Vice President Jejomar Binay, is suing the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) for damages, Rappler learned on Wednesday, May 20. 

"I filed a P100-million damage suit against AMLC officials," Tiu told Rappler Wednesday afternoon.

The suit comes more than a week after the Court of Appeals (CA) issued a freeze order on some 242 bank accounts connected to Binay, his aides, and alleged dummies. The CA was acting on a petition from the AMLC and the council's probe into accounts owned by Binay and those alleged to be fronting for him. 

Thirty of Tiu's accounts – his personal accounts, those of his companies, and of his family members – were also ordered frozen. 

Named as defendants in a complaint filed before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon city are AMLC members Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr, Securities and Exchange Commission chairperson Teresita J. Herbosa, Insurance Commission chief Emmanuel F. Dooc, and AMLC Executive Director Atty Julia C. Abad.

The complaint alleged that the AMLC officials “acted with gross and evident bad faith in baselessly and maliciously drafting the report of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (the “AMLC Report”) which served as the sole basis of the filing the Ex Parte Petition for Issuance of Freeze Order (“Ex Parte Petition”) with the Court of Appeals.

The petition for a freeze order, according to the complaint, maliciously implicated Tiu, directly and through companies related to him such as Greenergy Holdings Inc, Sunchamp Real Estate Development Corporation, and Earthright Holdings Inc , of crimes and defects, which are "mere fabrications and outright lies."

Tiu's transactions

The complaint also said that a simple perusal of the disclosures of Greenergy lodged with the Philippine Stock Exchange would already belie the claim of the AMLC Report.

The alleged “unjustified transactions” actually involve the following transactions where the Subido Pagente Certeza Mendoza & Binay law firm acted as legal counsel:

AMLC officials "acted in bad faith" and deliberately concealed from the Court of Appeals the truth about transactions that involved Tiu's companies, the complaint said.

In a previous interview with Rappler, Tiu criticized the AMLC over what he called a "malicious" investigation meant to merely "harass" him. The businessman, who built a multi-billion agriculture empire from scratch, was dragged into the Binay controversy after whistleblowers alleged that a vast Batangas property was not really his but was, in fact, Binay's. 

Tiu has since been accused of laundering money for Binay as well. 

Political harassment

The businessman insisted the deals flagged by the AMLC were legitimate business transactions and blasted them for allowing themselves to be "used to politically harass me." 

"If they want to fight the vice president, that’s their political battle. That’s their problem. But don’t drag innocent people into the battle," Tiu told Rappler in a previous interview. 

Aside from the freezing of his accounts, Tiu also faces tax evasion charges before the Bureau of Internal Revenue. He was also cited in contempt by the Senate for his refusal to attend the Senate Blue Ribbon Subcommittee probe. 

His arrest by the Senate was held in abeyance after he promised he would attend future hearings. 

Binay is at the center of a months-long Senate probe into allegations that he stole money and earned from contracts during his decades-long stint as Makati mayor. 

The Vice President, who leads 2016 presidential surveys, has several complaints pending before the Ombudsman over the construction of two Makati buildings, which whistleblowers said, were overpriced. The Binays – the Vice President and his family – allegedly benefited from the projects by getting kickbacks and using the money to fund their political campaigns.  

The Binays deny the allegations against them, and insist it is mere political harassment, meant to derail his chances in 2016. –