The office of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales has greenlighted the filing of forfeiture case against former Justice Secretary Hernando “Nani” Perez in the Sandiganbayan to recover his purported ill-gotten wealth amounting to $2 million.
Also included in the forfeiture proceedings against the former Cabinet official were his, his brother-in-law Ramon Antonio Arceo Jr. and business associate Ernest DL Escaler. Perez served as justice secretary during the term of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo from 2001 to 2003.
The Ombudsman’s investigation showed that businessman Mark Jimenez, also known as Mario Crespo, was “forced to give in to the demand of Perez and Escaler” for a $2 million payment sometime in 2001 so that they will cease to issue threats and intimidation against him.
Jimenez transferred the funds to the bank accounts of Perez, Escaler and Arceo. The three were all in Hong Kong at the time the fund transfers were made. The amount was not disclosed by Perez in his 2001 and 2002 statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALNs).
The Ombudsman conducted its preliminary investigation following Jimenez’s allegation that Perez demanded $2 million from him in Feb. 2001 in exchange for not being required to submit affidavits against former President Joseph Estrada, for whom Jimenez had acted as a financial adviser.
The Ombudsman proceeded with its investigation even though Jimenez withdrew his complaint. Four cases were filed against Perez, his wife Rosario, Arceo and Escaler in the Sandiganbayan in 2008 based on Jimenez’s complaint.