Napoles, 5 kin indicted for money laundering in the U.S.

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Janet Lim Napoles is accused of funneling P10 billion in lawmakers' funds to bogus non-government organizations.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 1) — A federal grand jury has indicted alleged pork barrel queen Janet Lim Napoles and five of her kin for conspiring to funnel in and out of the United States around $20 million in Philippine public funds believed obtained through a bribery and fraud scheme.

In a statement Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice said Napoles, Jo Christine Napoles, James Christopher Napoles, Jeane Catherine Napoles, Reynald Luy Lim, and Ana Marie Lim were charged in the indictment for conspiracy to commit domestic and international money laundering.

The U.S. DOJ said four of the defendants — together with around 20 Filipino legislators and officials not charged in U.S. indictments — converted "hundreds of millions of dollars" in government funds under the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).

"The money was paid to dozens of non-governmental organizations controlled by Jannet Napoles pursuant to contracts that required the money to be spent on development projects. The projects were not performed. Instead, the money was diverted to kickbacks for the legislators and other government officials, and for the personal use of the Napoles family," the statement read.

It claimed that around $20 million were diverted to money remitters in the Philippines and transmitted to Southern California bank accounts. The money was then used to buy real estate, shares in two business, two Porsche Boxsters and for the living expensesof Jeane Napoles, Reynald Lim, and Ana Lim.

A Southern California property worth $12.5 million has been seized by the United States Attorney's Office, the court documents also showed.

"If the court orders the assets forfeited, the United States will work with Philippine officials in an attempt to return the stolen funds back to the Philippine government," it said.

The U.S. DOJ added it has been working with its counterpart in the Philippines, as well as the Office of the Ombudsman, the Anti-Money Laundering Council, and the Commission on Audit to resolve this case.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra confirmed the joint efforts on the case.

"We have been quietly working together with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding the conspiracy to commit money laundering cases. Although we cannot extradite Napoles until her cases in Philippine courts have been terminated, the DOJ will extend all assistance to its US counterpart in prosecuting the money laundering cases, and in ensuring that our people's money is returned in due time to our national treasury," he said in a statement.

Guevarra, however, left the fate of Napoles' cases in the Philippines to the Ombudsman Special Prosecutor at the Sandiganbayan.

"After the DOJ terminated Napoles' provisional coverage under the WPP (Witness Protection Program), neither she nor her counsel has ever approached the DOJ again," he said.

Napoles was removed from the WPP last May. She pleaded to then DOJ chief Vitaliano Aguirre to place her under the program, citing death threats.

The alleged pork barrel scam mastermind was arrested in August 2013. She is currently detained for plunder and graft cases before the Sandiganbayan, in relation to the pork barrel scam.