US gov’t turns over $132,000 forfeited Ligot’s assets to the Phl

The United States government has turned over to the Philippines the proceeds of the forfeited assets of Erlinda Ligot, wife of former Armced Forces comptroller Jacinto Ligot.

US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr. went to the office of  Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to personally turn over the check amounting to $132,000 last April 7.

US Department of Justice Attache’ Robert Courtney III, and Customs Enforcement Attache’ James Ilusorio were with the ambassador when he turned over the check to De Lima.

In a statement made  after turning over the check to the Justice secretary, Thomas said: “Today I am pleased to announce the first-ever return of funds in an asset-forfeiture case. The United States Government is returning $132,000 to the Philippine Government. This is the result of the 2009 request and a settlement by the U.S. Government to a pending civil forfeiture action against a parcel of residential real estate in Southern California belonging to the wife of former military comptroller General Jacinto Ligot.

“This shows the benefits of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty we have with the Philippines, the confidence that the United States Government places in the Aquino administration, in particular, Secretary De Lima, that these funds will be returned to the Treasury and used for the benefit of the Filipino people, and we know that this will be the first of several cases in which we will be able to cooperate with the Philippine Government.”

De Lima explained that in 2005, the Office of the Ombudsman under then Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo asked the US Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement for the forfeiture of the property located at 70102 Stanton Avenue, Buenas Park in California registered in the name of Erlinda Ligot.

De Lima said the the property was ordered forfeited in the US under administrative forfeiture proceedings and in September 2009, the DoJ, under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, officialy requested for the turnover of the proceeds of the sale of the property to the Philippine fovernment.

The Ligots are facing a P428-million tax evasion case with the DoJ.

Based on the complaint filed by the Bureau of Internal Revenue, General Ligot failed to file his income tax return in 2001 while his wife failed to file hers from 2001 to 2004.

The two also allegedly failed to declare their income net worth of P41.854 million in 2001; P103.6 million in 2002; P165.367 million in 2003; and P148.955 million in 2004.#