‘FM gold trustee’ offers to settle Sabah award

He said Sultan Kiram had wanted the gold to serve as dollar reserves as a prerequisite to the mandates of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

An alleged trustee of the gold deposits of the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. has offered to pay the $14-billion arbitration award to the heirs of the Sultanate of Sulu if his son and namesake, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., would initiate the withdrawal of the gold deposits from Malaysian and Singaporean banks.

Lawyer Efren Rexie Bugaring, legal counsel of the trustee, told the Daily Tribune that once the multi-billion-peso gold deposits are withdrawn, the trustee is willing to set aside $14.9-billion for the heirs in an out-of-court settlement of the award.

“If President Marcos Jr. is intelligent enough he would initiate this effort to open the gold deposits of the trustee,” Bugaring said.

Bugaring did not elaborate but said that the trustee was an account holder of gold deposits transferred from a bank in Switzerland to a Singaporean bank. The gold had been identified by the Presidential Commission on Good Government as part of the alleged ill-gotten wealth of the late President Marcos Sr.

The trustee needs PBBM to initiate the withdrawal of the gold deposits, the lawyer said.

Bugaring declined to identify the account holder who is said to be his old age and offered to help PBBM withdraw the gold deposits which were placed under his account in Singapore, Malaysia, and other international banks.

“The trustee wants to monetize the gold to help spur economic growth in the country,” he said.

The trustee, he added, had also deposited $500 million in cash from a Hong Kong-based bank to a dummy account in a Malaysian bank in Penang, Malaysia.

A Tribune source said the gold deposits were part of the German loot recovered during the war by Rev. Father Jose Antonio Diaz, a.k.a. Col. Severino Sta. Romana of the US Office of Special Operations, which were deposited in the Vatican and later transferred to Switzerland.

“The late President Marcos was the lawyer of Father Sta. Romana in facilitating the deposit and transfer of the gold bullion,” the source said.

The source added that aside from the gold and cash deposits, some 400 metric tons of gold nuggets entrusted to the late President Marcos by the Sultanate of Sulu and transferred to a vault of the Central Bank of the Philippines for safekeeping were reported missing.

The transfer to the Central Bank was ordered by the late President Marcos from the possession of Sultan Mahamad Jamalul Kiram in the early 1960s.

He said Sultan Kiram had wanted the gold to serve as dollar reserves as a prerequisite to the mandates of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

The deposits included accumulated gold payments for the lease of Sabah from 1878 to 1950, when the British were paying rent.

“When transferred, Sultan Kiram wanted the gold to be used for the benefit of the nation and the lawful heirs of the Sultanate,” the source said.

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