RP customs seize cash shipments at airport


MANILA, AFP

Manila airport authorities on Friday seized US$11.6 million in cash amid allegations that deposed leader Joseph Estrada was trying to transfer his assets abroad, a customs official said.

Two foreign banks operating in Manila were trying to ship out US$4.3 million and US$7.3 million respectively in notes to Hong Kong, Manila airport customs collector Tess Roque told ABS-CBN television.

The two banks “are regular shippers, but because of the news that we received, we are holding these temporarily for verification. We also received information that there are Philippine pesos inside,” Roque added.

Estrada was toppled in a military-backed popular revolt last weekend, after an inconclusive corruption trial in which prosecutors linked him to tens of millions of dollars in unexplained wealth.

The Estrada family could not be reached for comment on Friday. Estrada has previously denied any wrongdoing.

Roque said customs officials were still checking the consignees of the cash shipments.

A citizen’s watchdog, Volunteers against Crime and Corruption, told a news conference earlier Friday that it had informed the finance department that more than US$15 million in cash had left the country since Tuesday.