Philippine graft scandal: US indicts businesswoman
Napoles, along with five family members, is accused of wiring USD 20 million of the stolen money from the Philippines to California bank accounts, the US attorney's office said in a statement.
A businesswoman at the center of a massive Manila corruption scandal has been charged in the US with laundering about USD 20 million allegedly pilfered from the Philippine state, prosecutors said, adding they would seek her extradition.
A federal grand jury in California indicted yesterday Philippine national Janet Lim Napoles, a key suspect in the so-called "pork barrel" scandal where politicians allegedly embezzled roughly USD 200 million that was supposed to help poor Filipinos.
Lim, 54, is already behind bars in the Philippines, where she is on trial over graft charges stemming from the alleged embezzlement.
The Manila law firm representing her declined to comment.
"We will work with our Philippine counterparts to secure the extradition of the defendants to the United States," said US Attorney Nick Hanna.
"If the court orders the assets forfeited, the United States will work... to return the stolen funds back to the Philippine government," the statement said.
The money was intended for use in development projects chosen by lawmakers, but instead, it was diverted to phony non-profit organizations and stolen.
The scandal rocked the Philippines, where one in five people live on the equivalent of just over a dollar a day.
Three Filipino senators were among those arrested in Manila in 2014 over the scam.
After her arrest in Manila, the US government said, Napoles and her family attempted to quietly liquidate the American assets and move the cash back to the Philippines or accounts in the US and Britain.
Last year Napoles won a legal victory when a Philippine appellate court acquitted her of charges of abducting and detaining a former aide who turned state witness against her in the plunder and graft charges.
However, President Rodrigo Duterte's government recently dropped an earlier proposal to turn her into a state witness, which could have lessened her exposure to a long prison sentence if convicted.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)