The U.S. Department of Justice is reportedly trying to recover about $12.5 million in assets that include proceeds from the sales of Irvine property and a Disneyland-area motel by a Philippine businesswoman who allegedly stole millions of dollars in funds entrusted to her for development assistance and disaster relief for her people.
Announcing the filing of a civil forfeiture complaint, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department's Criminal Division and Assistant Director in Charge David Bowdich of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office alleged 51-year-old Janet Napoles' alleged bribery and kickback schemes spanned nearly a decade.
Napoles is accused of having paid tens of millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks to Philippine politicians and other government officials in exchange for more than $200 million in funding for purported development assistance and disaster relief. But Napoles' non-governmental organizations (NGOs) either failed to provide, or under-delivered on, the promised support, the feds claim.
She is further accused of diverting NGO funds for her own personal use, often draining accounts within days of government disbursements. For this, the Philippines' Office of the Ombudsman has charged Napoles, two of her children and numerous current and former Philippine politicians and other government officials in connection with what has been nicknamed the "pork barrel scam."
More than $12 million in Philippine government-awarded funds were transferred to bank accounts in the U.S. in the names of, or controlled by, Napoles' family members, according to the federal complaint that claims some of that money purchased a condominium at the Ritz-Carlton in Los Angeles for the accused's 21-year-old daughter.
The complaint seeks to forfeit the proceeds from the sale of that condo, the motel near Disneyland in Anaheim, properties in Covina and Irvine, a 19 percent stake in a California-based consulting company and a Porsche Boxster that was purchased for another daughter.
"In an effort to disguise and enjoy her ill-gotten gains, Napoles purchased properties and other assets in the United States for herself and her family members, including a condominium at the Ritz and a Porsche," Caldwell said. "The Justice Department will not allow the United States to become a playground for the corrupt or a place to hide and invest stolen riches."
As for locking up Napoles and throwing away the key, it's too late: She is currently serving a life sentence in a Philippine prison for her role in the kidnapping and detention of her cousin, Benhur Luy, who served as Napoles's finance officer and tracked her schemes.