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‘Marcos billions’ myth revived in fake US$5b bank draft case

09 August 2018


By Vir B. Lumicao

The myth of the hidden Marcos billions was resurrected in Eastern Court on Aug 9 as an affidavit presented as evidence by one of three defendants in a fake US$5 billion bank draft case linked it to the late Philippine dictator.
Marcos reportedly fled into exile in the US in 1986 with
gold bullions and up to US$2 billion in stolen wealth

The affidavit came with an engagement agreement between a company headed by Ruben Soliman, the purported owner of the bank draft, and a law firm that employed the 43-year-old defendant Eliseo L. Martinez.

The company, Soliman Property Ventures & Holding Corp, was allegedly owned by the Soliman patriarch described as a “caretaker” of deposed President Ferdinand E. Marcos.

The Marcos billions twist came as Martinez and co-accused Elmer Soliman, 57, and his son Eric Jude Soliman, 31, returned to Eastern Court on charges of “using a false instrument” for allegedly trying to pass off the bank draft as genuine.

Martinez submitted the documents as his lawyer again applied for bail, saying the defendant’s wife was in town. Martinez offered $15,000 cash bail and another $15,000 as surety from his friend, a Hong Kong resident named “Pieter”.

The defense counsel said the documents showed Martinez was assigned by his law firm to handle the bank draft claim although he came to Hong Kong as a “companion” of the Solimans.

But after reading the affidavit, Magistrate Peter Law said Martinez “just made his situation worse than before” while trying to clarify his role in the case.

The affidavit indicated that Soliman Property had engaged Martinez & Lim Law Office in verifying the bank draft validity. Accordingly, the elder Soliman sent his son Elmer and grandson Eric Jude to Hong Kong, accompanied by Martinez, to present the original of the bank instrument to HSBC for verification.

Elmer Soliman said his son had earlier shown a copy of the instrument to staff at the HSBC headquarters in Central, but he was advised to present the original. But when they returned in April with Martinez, they were arrested and their hotel room raided by police.

 “If your client is a lawyer hired by (the Solimans), how and where did he get the bank document and in what capacity did he come to Hong Kong to claim the money? We’re talking here of billions of US dollars,” Law told the defense lawyer.

The lawyer requested for a 15-minute break to take instructions from his client. When the hearing resumed, the counsel said Martinez was assigned by his law firm to handle the bank draft case.
However, the lawyer maintained the defendant came to Hong Kong “only as a companion” of Soliman.

Law said if a lawyer agrees to serve a client to claim a certain amount of money without ascertaining from the client the source of the money, the relationship raises questions.

Not having done that, the magistrate said Martinez “just made his situation even worse than before.”

Law adjourned the hearing until Sept. 23 but told Martinez to return to court after eight days for the result of his bail application.


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