'Several bank accounts a sign of laundering'

Accused plunderer Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla.

MANILA - Having multiple bank accounts is a sign that an individual is involved in money laundering.

This was the testimony of a lawyer of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) during the bail hearing at the Sandiganbayan of accused plunderer Sen. Ramon "Bong" Revilla Jr. who, along with his wife Cavite Rep. Lani Revilla and their children and his siblings, owned 81 bank accounts.

During cross-examination, Revilla's defence counsel Joel Bodegon said that based on the AMLC's report on Revilla's bank transactions, only four bank accounts accounted for the bulk of the P87 million (S$2.47 million) the council claimed Revilla earned from his kickbacks in the pork barrel scam of alleged mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, his coaccused for plunder and graft, between 2006 and 2010.

AMLC investigator Leigh Von Santos said that 11 deposit and investment accounts, and not only four were the most active among Revilla's 81 accounts.

"The closure of bank accounts when the Priority Development Assistance Funds circulated in the media is indicative of a criminal mind. The maintenance of quite a number of bank accounts is an indication of a money-laundering scheme," Santos said.

Revilla closed some of his bank accounts in August last year when initial reports on the pork barrel scam started filtering out in media.

This drew a howl from Revilla and Mercado and their staff members who were present during the hearing where Bodegon and other defence lawyers tried to highlight inconsistencies in the AMLC report which pinned down Revilla for unexplained wealth.

"Let them be. They have already painted me as a criminal. I am leaving everything to God to take care of them," Revilla said after the hearing.

In his testimony, Santos claimed that the AMLC's findings that confirmed whistle-blower Benhur Luy's ledger showing withdrawals of pork barrel funds received by Napoles' nongovernment organisations matched those with the deposit transactions in Revilla's bank accounts.

Santos explained that a simple plotting of Luy's records and Revilla's bank records would show that the senator deposited his kickbacks within 30 days after Napoles withdrew the Priority Development Assistance Fund money she received.

However, Bodegon said there was "malice" in the way the AMLC made it appear that Revilla was getting what Napoles withdrew when there was no documentary evidence to make the connection.

"We will show in court that the money Revilla was depositing in his bank accounts were earned from his movies and endorsements," said Bodegon, who noted that Revilla earned between P30 million and P40 million from just one blockbuster movie every year.

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