CA freezes bank assets of British national

April 25, 2012 9:47 pm 

MANILA, April 25 – The Court of Appeals (CA) has issued a 20-day freeze order against the bank accounts of a Filipina whose husband is accused of violations of British anti-money laundering laws in the United Kingdom.

In a resolution written by Associate Justice Apolinario Bruselas Jr., the CA's Fourth Division ordered the Philippine Savings Bank (PSBank) and Standard Chartered Bank to immediately freeze the accounts under the name of Ruth Ramos Ochavez.

Concurring with the resolution were Associate Justices Juan Enriquez Jr. and Manuel Barrios.

The freeze order came following an ex-parte petition filed by the Philippines' Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

The Department of Justice (DOJ) referred to the AMLC on Aug. 11, 2011 a request for assistance by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) of the government of the United Kingdom (UK), coursed through the UK Judicial Cooperation Unit.

The request was made on the basis of the good international relations between the Philippines and the UK and their common interest against criminality.

The British government conducted an investigation on Achilleas Kallakis, alias Stefanos Kollakis; Alexander Lewis, alias Martin Lewis; and Michael Karl Helmut Mauritius Becker for violations of British criminal laws, "by conspiring amongst themselves to submit false and/or forged documents and/or statements to defraud Allied Irish Bank (AIB), an Irish company with branch registration in England and a UK subsidiary, AIB Group (UK) PLC, of money in the amount of around £ 700 million, as well as alleged violations of British anti-money laundering laws."

Record showed that the crimes were allegedly committed between the years 2003 and 2007.

The SFO said that Williams, alias Martin Lewis, in violating the UK money laundering laws by transferring illegally obtained funds of AIB to a network of accounts overseas, concealed the proceeds he obtained from the fraud by passing them to his wife, Ruth Ramos Ochavez thru her bank accounts in the Philippines.

It said that Ochavez received cash deposits in a UK bank account during the period of the fraud even if she has not declared any income from employment in the UK since April 2005.

The SFO identified the subject bank accounts in the Philippines, both in the name of Ochavez, where proceeds of the alleged unlawful activities were transferred.

"After studying the averments in the petition, as well as the annexes supporting the same, the court finds that the issuance of a freeze order is warranted," the CA said.

The freeze order was issued by the CA to avoid the possibility of the funds being withdrawn, removed, transferred, concealed, and placed beyond the reach of Philippine law enforcers. (PNA) dct/RMA/PTR

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