HONOLULU — A jury awarded $22 billion to an American company that claims the late Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos stole a golden Buddha statue filled with gems from a treasure hunter, news reports said Saturday.
"As far as I know, it is the largest verdict probably in the history of jurisprudence in the world," said Daniel Cathcart, attorney for the Atlanta-based Golden Buddha Corp.
But a Marcos family attorney dismissed the award, which a state jury reached in less than five hours of deliberations Friday.
"It's noncollectible. It's Monopoly money," attorney James Paul Linn said. "Everything in the Marcos estate is tied up by the Philippine government. . . . There's no money there."
Marcos deposited an estimated $475 million in two Swiss bank accounts, and his estate is believed to be worth billions of dollars, much of it amassed illegally.
The verdict will be appealed, Linn said.
The case centers around treasure hunter Rogelio Roxas' claim that a treasure, including thousands of bars of gold, was stolen from him after he discovered it in a tunnel in his native Philippines.
Roxas, who died in 1993, said Marcos' forces imprisoned and tortured him after stealing a gold Buddha filled with diamonds in 1971.
Roxas turned over claims to the treasure to a group of investors, which filed suit in Hawaii.