U.S. WANTS SADDAM'S RP FUNDS FROZENManila, 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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