"What this Country needs is not a change OF men but a change IN men" March 1980

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Foundations were used to launder money

Foundations were used to cover up for the well-entrenched corruption scheme in the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, allegedly engineered by former agriculture undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante,Independent Senator Richard J. Gordon said today.

Gordon, chairman of the Senate blue ribbon panel, said the Senate probe into the fertilizer fund scam is now nearing its end with the scheme already being pieced together through the documentary and testimonial evidence presented by the witnesses..

"Sa palagay ko natatahi-tahi na natin. Nadikit-dikit na from the bank account all the way to Bolante. We can now trace the paper trail; foundations were used to launder money," he said.

"We are now nearing the end of the investigation. We only need the other names mentioned to surface but what we have will already suffice," he added.

During the 7th public hearing on the P728-million fertilizer fund scam, businessman Jaime Paule's involvement in the fertilizer fund scam was established when Marilyn Araos testified she was ordered by Paule to open an account at the Land Bank-Elliptical Road Branch for Feshan Phils., the biggest supplier in the fertilizer project, and sign blank checks for the company.

She added that Paule threatened her that she would lose her job if she would refuse to comply with his orders. Araos is a "runner" for the said project for the local government units in Regions III and IV, where she gets one percent commission for every transaction.

Surprise witness Natalio Castillo Jr. disclosed how Paule approached him to finance the project and when he turned it down, he referred his friend Joselito Flordeliza for the use of his foundation, the National Organization for Agricultural Enhancement and Productivity, Inc.

Flordeliza, president of the foundation, also disclosed that the foundation would get three percent for every transaction that would be completed and that Paule recommended Marites Aytona to manage the project with the Department of Agriculture (DA) when Flordeliza said he was too busy to manage it.

Leonicia Llarena, owner of Dane Publishing, also testified that it was Paule who approached her to seek assistance in issuing checks for the project. Both Llarena and Paule and their respective families had been friends for some time.

Gordon said that the testimonies of the witnesses showed that a large chunk of the funds purportedly intended for the DA's Farm Input-Farm Implement (FIFI) project ended up in some individuals' pockets and that only a small part really went to the actual purchase of fertilizers.

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