PCGG to probe secret Marcos wealth in Australia

Faye Valencia
The Inbox


By Ellen Tordesillas, VERA Files
For Yahoo! Southeast Asia

The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) will look into the reported ill-gotten wealth of the late president Ferdinand Marcos in Australia believed to be under the name of a former swimsuit model whose daughter was reportedly dropped from a reality TV show after producers learned her father was the Philippine dictator.

"We will look at the money trail and see if the amount to be recovered would be worth the lawyers' fees we would be spending for it," PCGG Chairman Andres Bautista said, adding that he only learned about the alleged Marcos wealth in Australia Thursday when his staff showed him a news item that appeared in an Australian newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, about Analisa Hegyesi, an interior designer, who was axed from the reality show "Renovators" when she told producers she was the daughter of Marcos.

Hegyesi, 40, is the daughter of Evelin Hegyesi, 64, a swimsuit model in her younger days who had an affair with Marcos in the 1970s. Marcos, who ruled the Philippines for more than 20 years, was known to have affairs with actresses and fashion models.

Ana Lisa, whose second name is "Josefa" after Marcos' mother, has been mentioned in Australian papers as living with wealthy businessman and horse racing aficionado Dean Fleming.

Bautista said he was also shown a 2004 article that appeared in another  Australian newspaper, The Sun-Herald,  with details on the layers  of foundations  Marcos set up to hide the money he gave to  Evelin.

News reports said Evelin was born in Germany to Hungarian parents, Theresa and  Anton, who migrated to Australia in the late 1940'.

The Sun-Herald's article written by Frank Walker said that on Nov. 12, 1971, soon after Evelin gave birth to Analisa, then president Marcos signed papers that made her company, Austraphil Pty Ltd, the "sole and only beneficiary" of assets in Azio Foundation, one of his secret accounts at Swiss SKA Bank, now called Credit Suisse. Marcos set up Azio on June 21, 1971, with 100,000 Swiss francs.

Evelin set up Austraphil Pty on Oct. 14, 1970 when she was three months pregnant with Analisa. In February 1971, Austraphil bought a five-bedroom mansion in Sydney's most expensive area, Wyuna Road, Point Piper, for Australian$210,000.  An Australian dollar is worth 1.03 US dollar.

Walker reported: "Land title papers and annual reports show Austraphil had a loan of A$250,000 from a Swiss firm called Finanz AG of Zurich. Finanz AG was a subsidiary of the Swiss SKA Bank, now called Credit Suisse. This was the main bank used by Marcos as the front for his Swiss secret accounts."

Walker also said Swiss court documents  showed that Marcos had many of his secret accounts at SKA, including "foundations" dubbed Azio, Charis, Avertina, Vibur and Valamo.

The court investigation, which was heard at Die Bezirksanwaltschaft, Zurich, found millions of dollars came from illegal sources. It revealed Finanz AG Zurich was frequently used by Marcos to distribute money from his personal accounts so it could not be traced.

That lasted a year until Dec. 4, 1972 when Marcos changed the Azio beneficiary to another of his foundations called Charis. Bank records disappeared after this point, Walker said.

Court papers showed that Marcos siphoned $US23 million from Japan's war reparations into Charis.

Walker also said Evelin paid off the loan she got to buy the Point Piper mansion in 1976, transferring ownership to her own name. She sold the mansion in 1999 for A$6.2 million, moving to a waterfront apartment she bought for A$1.48 million.

Australian listings showed Evelin's name in several investment companies.

Walker said in April 1972 she set up Australasia Trading and Investment Corporation. In August 1973, she set up Lima Investments, which had Austraphil as a major shareholder. Annual reports showed Finanz AG lent Lima A$100,000 as an unsecured loan. Lima invested in a West Australian cattle property called Drysdale River Station.

Walker also said court documents showed that, between 1982 and 1985, Marcos' Vibur Foundation sent several transfers totaling $US200,000 to Credit Suisse Hong Kong marked "Vienna/Sydney."

"This money was obviously destined for Evelin Hegyesi in Sydney and Anita Langheinz in Vienna," Walker quoted court records.

The same records also showed  that in 1982 there were several payments from Marcos' Vibur Foundation to an account at the Bank of NSW (now known as Westpac).

The same Vibur Foundation account paid some administrative costs and payments in Australian dollars to the SKA bank subsidiary Finanz AG, according to court records.

The PCGG was established by the late president Corazon Aquino immediately after she assumed the presidency following the ouster of Marcos through People Power in 1986 to recover the dictator's alleged ill-gotten wealth estimated to reach US$10 billion.

The Philippines has a treaty with Australia on mutual assistance in criminal matters (IMAC). Bautista said he was told by an old hand in the PCGG that the Commission did not pursue an IMAC petition on the Hegyesi account because it involved less than US$500,000.

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VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true."