The Justice Department is seeking to recover $12.5 million worth of goods from a Filipino businesswoman for allegedly stealing money from the Philippines government that was intended for disaster relief in the Philippines, and hiding it in U.S. assets.
For almost a decade, Janet Napoles, 51, allegedly paid bribes totaling in the tens of millions to Filipino politicians in order to win development assistance and disaster relief grants exceeding $200 million. Non-government organizations run by Napoles, however, either never delivered or under-delivered the promised aid.
"The Justice Department maintains that Napoles embezzled some of the money and parked it in the U.S. in the form of property, a luxury car and other assets," the department said. "In an effort to disguise and enjoy her ill-gotten gains, Napoles purchased properties and other assets in the United States for herself and her family members, including a condominium at the Ritz and a Porsche. The Justice Department will not allow the United States to become a playground for the corrupt or a place to hide and invest stolen riches."
Napoles is serving a life sentence in the Philippines for her participation in the kidnapping of her former financial officer turned whistleblower, who is also her cousin.
The Philippines' Office of the Ombudsman has charged Napoles, two of her children and numerous current and former Filipino politicians and other government officials in connection with what has been nicknamed the "pork barrel scam."
Others arrested in the corruption conspiracy include former Filipino Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, a powerful politician for decades who served as former President Ferdinand Marcos' defense minister; former Sen. Jose Estrada, son of a former president; and Filipino movie star and former senator Ramon Revilla.
The complaint was brought under the inter-agency kleptocracy asset recovery initiative, which targets the proceeds of foreign-official corruption.