Tycoon's offer to testify vs brod junked!

Tycoon's offer to testify vs brod junked!

By: Hector Lawas

SOLICITOR General and concurrent Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera has turned down the offer of Filipino-Chinese billionaire Mariano Tanenglian to turn state witness in the ill-gotten wealth case against his estranged brother, tycoon Lucio Tan, and several others, saying his motive was obscure and his request for immunity is grossly disadvantageous to the government.

The Office of the Solicitor General has transmitted to the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) its recommendation to reject Tanenglian’s conditional offer.

In a nine-page memorandum to PCGG Chairman Camilo Sabio, Devanadera stressed that Tanenglian’s offer to turn his back against Tan is dubious and questionable since the siblings are now entangled in a bitter personal dispute that has already reached the halls of courts.

Devanadera added that the government does not want to get entangled in the crossfire between two warring brothers. She explained that Tanenglian’s offer “would serve no useful purpose” for the government, especially that “such admission would have zero credibility in light of the considerable delay of more than 20 years before he comes out with it.”

“Looking at the instant draft Immunity Agreement, it appears there are matters of critical concern and consideration that negate its approval and execution. In view of the foregoing, the undersigned (Devanadera) respectfully recommend that the draft Immunity Agreement be rejected outright,” the chief state lawyer said.

In the draft of the “Immunity Agreement proposal,” Tanenglian offers to cooperate with the government by providing information relevant to the case and by making himself available as witness for the republic, if requested by state prosecutors.

In exchange, Tanenglian urged the PCGG to grant him and his immediate family civil and criminal immunity. He also asked to be dropped as a defendant in a civil case being pursued by the government and the lifting of all writs of sequestration, particularly his shares of stocks in the Lucio Tan Group of Companies.

“Tanenglian wants to be dropped as a defendant in Civil Case No. 005; that any sequestration, lien and encumbrance on his property, particularly his shares of stocks in the corporation subject of the suit be lifted; and that the government’s claims on said property be dismissed with prejudice,” the Solgen noted.

Devanadera cited past Supreme Court, which “took special occasions to pronounce that immunity can be extended only to witnesses who provide information to testify against a respondent, defendant or accused in an ill-gotten wealth case.”

In the case of Tanenglian, Devanadera noted that he “was even a treasurer in some of the corporations” and is “named principal defendant who… actively collaborated with the Marcoses in the accumulation of ill-gotten wealth.”

She also pointed out that in the past, immunity was only given to alleged cronies of the late President Ferdinand Marcos where the recipient spontaneously cooperated with the government and gave material information before the execution of any compromised agreement.

“In contrast, up to this time, Tanenglian has not given the PCGG any new information that could perhaps further strengthen the Republic’s case. He merely relies on documents already available to the Republic. While he obliges himself to provide useful information once the Immunity Agreement is executed, there is no certainty whether he will provide useful information at all. This being so, the proposal of Tanenglian is grossly disadvantageous to the Republic,” the solicitor general said.

“We can better rely on the veracity of Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr.’s voluntary testimony for the Republic, sans immunity or any concession of some sort, having seen or identified these vital documents,” she added.

In doubting the motives of Tanenglian in offering himself as government witness, Devanadera said, “Tanenglian’s motives are obscure. If Tanenglian is only protecting his existing interest in the Lucio Tan Group of Companies, then why does he need to execute an Immunity Agreement if, in the opinion of his counsels, the prosecution in Civil Case No. 005 is weak. The inference that can be made from such actuation is that either the evidence for the prosecution is strong or she may only just use the agreement against Lucio Tan.”

Also, Devanandera doubted the real motive of Tanenglian, saying the proposed special grant of immunity may be used by Lucio Tan and the other defendants, in connivance with Tanenglian, as a scheme to protect their shareholdings by transferring their shares of stocks in favor of Tanenglian.

“Once this scheme is materialized and the republic succeeds in Civil Case No. 005, the fruits of victory would not be reaped since there will be no property that could be reached by the writ of execution. Any success in the instant case might result to an empty victory,” she said.

In 1987, the PCGG filed a forfeiture case against Lucio Tan and several of his companies, including Fortune Tobacco Corp., Asia Brewery, Allied Banking Corp., Foremost Farms, Himmel Industries, Grandspan Development Corp., Silangan Holdings, Dominium Realty, Construction Corp. and Shareholdings Inc. The case docketed as Civil Case No. 005 has dragged on for more than 20 years.

The prosecution alleged that Ferdinand Marcos had 60 percent beneficial ownership in said companies, which beneficial interests were held in trust by Tan personally and through his family members and business associates who appeared as the recorded stockholders of said companies.

No comments: