MANILA — The Philippine government announced Thursday that it has frozen all the bank accounts of 33 relatives and associates of deposed President Ferdinand E. Marcos and is also investigating whether Marcos associates may have diverted funds from the nation's gambling casinos.
Those whose bank deposits were frozen included Marcos' wife, Imelda, his children, former armed forces chief of staff Fabian C. Ver and eight businessmen closely connected to the former president.
Jose B. Fernandez Jr., governor of the Central Bank of the Philippines, ordered all commercial banks in the nation to stop withdrawals or fund transfers from these bank accounts.
The new action was disclosed at a press conference by Raul A. Daza, a member of President Corazon Aquino's Commission on Good Government, the agency assigned to recover wealth illegally obtained by Marcos and his associates.
Daza also disclosed that the commission has frozen the trust account for funds derived from gambling casinos here. "We have preliminary reports indicating that the casinos have been run in a loose manner, particularly with regard to the share that goes to the government," the commissioner said.
Under an arrangement set up under Marcos, half of the profits from Philippine gambling casinos are supposed to be turned over to the government and half are retained by a private company. The names of the company's shareholders have never been made public, but they are believed to include members of Imelda Marcos' family.
In the past, Marcos' Presidential Security Command was responsible for providing police protection at the casinos. Government regulators did not question or challenge the figures supplied to them on how much money the casinos made.
Daza said the commission believes the casino operations were either controlled or "indirectly influenced by cronies" of Marcos. He said he was not prepared to identify these individuals.
In recent days, workers at gambling casinos here have publicly voiced the fear that they may soon lose their jobs. But Daza said Thursday that the casinos will continue to operate and that the commission will consider the "labor factor" in any further actions it takes regarding the casinos.
The casino profits have been routinely deposited in a trust fund in Traders Royal Bank, a private institution controlled by Roberto S. Benedicto, the Marcos associate who has for years controlled the sugar monopoly here.
It is this trust fund that the Commission on Good Government has blocked. "We want to make sure that no money is taken out of that account," Daza said Thursday.
Meanwhile, in Hawaii, U.S. District Judge Harold M. Fong issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Customs Service from giving a congressional committee or any other "third party" copies of an estimated 1,500 documents Marcos brought to the United States. And in New York, the Court of International Trade issued a similar order, pending a hearing Saturday on a Justice Department plan to provide copies of the documents for two federal grand jury investigations.