The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) did not detect any “red flags” in the bank accounts of detained Sen. Jinggoy Estrada that would warrant an investigation.
AMLC bank investigator Orlando Negradas Jr. admitted this on Monday in his testimony during the continuation of Estrada’s bail hearing in the Sandiganbayan Fifth Division.
Negradas, who led the investigation into Estrada’s bank transactions, said he was part of the 10-member team the AMLC formed to look into the bank records of personalities tagged in the misuse of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF), or pork barrel, of legislators.
Replying to Estrada’s lawyer, Alejandre Duenas, during cross-examination, Nagradas said they opened the investigation only after the Office of the Ombudsman asked the council to check the senator’s bank records in October 2013.
Estrada allegedly received P184 million in kickbacks from his pork barrel.
Negradas said the National Bureau of Investigation made a similar request as part of its probe into the allegations of primary whistleblower Benhur Luy, who exposed the P10-billion PDAF scam.
He said the Inquirer’s six-part expose on the PDAF scam, which came out in July 2013, “triggered” the AMLC inquiry into the bank accounts and properties of suspected fund scam mastermind Janet Lim-Napoles, her companies and foundations.
Associate Justice Ma. Theresa Dolores Estoesta, who temporarily served as chair of the Fifth Division, asked Negradas if the AMLC found suspicious transactions in Estrada’s bank records.
Negradas said none of the accounts owned by Estrada and his associates were included in the “suspicious transactions reports” which are regularly submitted to the AMLC by commercial banks.
“So there are no red flags on any of these banks accounts?” Estoesta asked.
The witness replied, “Yes ma’am.”
In an interview after the hearing, Estrada said Negradas’ testimony showed that “I did not launder any money from the government.”
“All my bank deposits came from legitimate income,” Estrada told reporters.