Former Philippines President Ferdinand E. Marcos and his wife, Imelda, are targets of a federal grand jury investigation into whether they illegally acquired hundreds of millions of dollars worth of New York real estate and fraudulently attempted to transfer it to Saudi billionaire Adnan Khashoggi in violation of a court order, sources say.
The sources said the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan also is considering a broader racketeering case including claims that the Marcoses illegally acquired millions of dollars worth of jewelry brought into the United States when they fled the Philippines in February, 1986.
Richard A. Hibey, the couple's lawyer, confirmed that Ferdinand Marcos is a target of the New York grand jury. He refused to say whether it also is probing the finances of Imelda Marcos.
'Deny Any Wrongdoing'
He said the Marcoses "deny any wrongdoing" in connection with the New York properties, as well as "any wrongdoing with regard to property brought into the country."
The sources said prosecutors are investigating whether the jewelry, some of which Imelda Marcos allegedly bought on shopping sprees in the United States, was acquired with funds illegally diverted from the Philippine government.
The sources said the Marcoses were informed by letter this summer that they were targets of the grand jury. Although such a letter is normally the prelude to an indictment, the sources cautioned that no decision has been made on whether to proceed and that any such action must be cleared by the White House because of foreign policy implications.
Federal prosecutors are focusing on four Manhattan office buildings, sources said.
New York real estate agents Joseph and Ralph Bernstein said at a congressional hearing last year that they arranged for the Marcoses to purchase the properties, worth an estimated $326 million at the time of the hearing, through foreign corporations in Panama, the British Virgin Islands and the Netherlands Antilles that shielded the Marcoses from New York state's gains tax.
Dispute Over Sale
The Bernsteins also are suing the Marcoses, alleging that corporations owned and controlled by the couple agreed to sell the brothers three of the buildings in July, 1985.
They say that in May, 1986, after a federal judge prohibited transfer of the properties, Gliceria Tantoco, a Philippine national and close friend and business associate of the Marcoses, backdated a declaration of trust to make it appear that Khashoggi had owned two of the properties since August, 1985.