How the Marcoses were able to make so many investments abroad is now becoming clear. There was an elaborate system of codes and false names, shell companies, and offshore corporations. For Imelda’s New York properties alone, for instance, there were two tiers of offshore corporations established in the Caribbean. The Swiss bank accounts, which were set up as early as 1968, a mere two years after Marcos took office, according to the Commission on Good Government, were in the names of “William Saunders” and “Jane Ryan.” If either of the Marcoses wanted to make withdrawals from these accounts, they sent a “happy Birthday” message to an agent in Zurich; this agent in turn contacted a Hong Kong agent, who then traveled to Manila.
–Inside the Palace (1987), Beth Day Romulo, p.253-254.
53. Marcos, Ferdinand (1917 – 1989)
Former president of the Republic of the Philippines, who systematically looted the Philippine Treasury during his 20-year reign—some would claim of up to $10 billion. In 2004, Transparency International ranked Marcos as the second most corrupt political official in recent history. Pavel Lazarenko, also on my Who’s Who in Fribourg list, was ranked as the eighth most corrupt by Transparency International (see no.50 above). Something seems to draw Kleptocrats and oligarchs to the little secluded town of Fribourg!
Many millions that Marcos skimmed from Japanese war reparations were channeled through a Swiss Bank Corp. account in Fribourg and used to purchase the Crown Building in Manhattan. “Corruption is endemic in Philippine society. The very low wages paid civil servants, for example, almost insures routine bribes as a way of making ends meet, for everything from ‘fixing’ a parking ticket to trying to get a judge to drop a case” (Inside the Palace, p. 255). Imelda and Ferdinand’s thievery, however, was beyond belief. When Marcos’s successor, Mrs. Cory Aquino (whose husband, Benigno, was allegedly assassinated by Marcos) visited Malacanang Palace, where the Marcoses had lived, she was disgusted by “the displays of ostentatious spending—the expensive rugs and chandeliers and crystal statuettes, the antique (some life-size) statues of saints, the rosewood tables and quarts of perfume, the rows of unused gowns, the stacks of shoes, the freezers full of US steaks, and the cabinets piled high with caviar” (Inside the Palace, p. 254).
Although Ferdinand Marcos died in 1989 (after fleeing to Hawaii in 1987), and his wife was acquitted of US charges of conspiracy and racketeering in 1990, hundreds of millions of dollars remained frozen in bank accounts in Zurich and Fribourg until June 1998 when the remaining $270 million in Swiss banks that belonged to Marcos was transferred to the Philippines. The money was put in an escrow account which already held $300 million previously transferred from Switzerland. In late 1998, after having denied for years that her husband had extensive holdings in the Philippines, Mrs. Marcos announced that she planned to file a suit to recover $12 billion worth of shares she claimed her husband had owned in Philippine companies. In 1999 several new secret Swiss accounts belonging to Marcos cronies were discovered.