U.S. WANTS SADDAM'S RP FUNDS FROZEN

Manila, April 14, 2003 -- Did fallen Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein or his 
cronies hide ill-gotten wealth in the Philippines?

This is the question the United States wants answered as it urged the 
Philippine government to look into any possible assets the Iraqi government 
or Saddam may have in the Philippines, which could be used to fund the 
reconstruction of post-war Iraq.

The US, through its embassy in Manila, wrote Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas 
(BSP) Governor Rafael Buenaventura last March 24 requesting the government 
to "identify, freeze and prepare to transfer for the benefit of the Iraqi 
people any Iraqi government assets, as well as any ill-gotten gains of 
Hussein or his regime in the Philippines that have not already been frozen."

"The collective goal is to bring Iraqi resources as well as ill-gotten 
gains of Hussein and his regime to assist the people of Iraq and the 
reconstruction of their country," the US said in its letter.

Washington acknowledged that each country will have to determine the most 
appropriate means to achieve this collective goal. Some nations may not 
have Iraqi government assets in local accounts, nor do all countries have 
the domestic legal authority to make these assets available for transfer.

The Anti-Money Laundering Council, in response to the US government's 
request, will issue a circular for institutions under the BSP, Securities 
and Exchange Commission and the Insurance Commission to look into possible 
Iraqi assets under their jurisdiction.

While the Philippine government did not yield to US request for their 
allies and other nations to boot out Iraqi diplomats in their respective 
countries, Ople admitted Manila "is in a limbo," whether to continue 
extending diplomatic recognition to the Iraqi delegation.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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