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Sep 15th
Home Columns Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. US Should Be Asked to Extradite Bagman of NBN-ZTEgate’s “Gang Of Four”
US Should Be Asked to Extradite Bagman of NBN-ZTEgate’s “Gang Of Four” PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - This Week With Nene Pimentel
Friday, 29 February 2008 15:24
enate Minority Leader Aquilino “Nene” Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today asked the Senate to formally request the United States to extradite a member of a four-man group that brokered and negotiated the grossly-overpriced $329-million national broadband network (NBN) project that was awarded to China’s ZTE Corporation.

Senator Pimentel made the suggestion on the basis of the revelation by surprise witness Dante Madriaga, a former technical consultant for the botched telecommunications project, that Ruben Reyes, the alleged treasurer or bagman of the group, had fled to the United States last October after the Senate started its inquiry into the NBN scandal.

“I think we can invoke our extradition treaty with the US for those people who are seeking haven in the US from our investigation,” Senator Pimentel said.

In his testimony before the Blue Ribbon Committee, together with the Defense Committee and Trade and Commerce Committee, Mr. Madriaga disclosed that the ZTE Corp. had made a total of $41-million advanced payments to the group, which he dubbed the “gang of four,” in three installments, which were allegedly received by Mr. Reyes.

Mr. Madriaga said the $1-million fee for representation expenses was received by the group in August 2006, followed by a “success fee” of $10 million in March, 2007. He said the group, with Mr. Reyes as recipient, was given another $30 million in April 2007 following the signing of the supply contract between ZTE and the Philippine government in Boao, Fujian, China, which was personally witnessed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

According to Mr. Madriaga, the $30-million was supposed to be spent for the campaign expenses of administration candidates in the May 2007 elections but was instead deposited in a Hong Kong bank and later transferred in a bank in Cayman islands.

Senator Pimentel said the Blue Ribbon Committee, chaired by Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, should lose no time in initiating the extradition request which will be coursed through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Justice.

“I would suggest very strongly to the committee to start the process so that we can invoke that extradition treaty because I know that the Americans are very, very strict regarding those engaged in money laundering and corruption,” he said.

Aside from Mr. Reyes, the other members of the brokers’ group were identified by Mr. Madriaga as former Commission on Elections (COMELEC) chairman Benjamin Abalos, retired Police Gen. Quirino “Torch” de la Torre and businessman Leo San Miguel.

"The Americans are very, very strict regarding those engaged in money laundering and corruption,” Mr. Pimentel said.Mr. Reyes is known as a golf partner of former COMELEC Chairman Abalos with wide contacts in the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Mr. De la Torre served as security adviser of Mr. Abalos. Mr. San Miguel was the former owner of Home Cable who hired Mr. Madriaga for the preparation and design of the NBN-ZTE project.

Mr. Madriaga also mentioned a certain Jimmy Paz who represented Mr. Abalos in the group’s meetings whenever the COMELEC chief was busy with other appointments.

Mr. Abalos is now in the US supposedly as part of a prize he won in golf tournament.

Upon Mr. Pimentel’s request, the Blue Ribbon Committee had also issued a subpoena to Yu Yong and Fan Yang, president and vice president for finance respectively, of ZTE Corp. Fan Yang was erroneously identified in previous reports as a commercial attaché of the Chinese embassy in Manila.

Stressing the importance of the testimonies of Yu Yong and Fan Yang, Mr. Pimentel said the senators want to verify from them Mr. Madriaga’s claim he had worked with them as technical consultant. He also pointed out that Fan Yang was pinpointed by Mr. Madriaga as the main source of information that a $41-million cash advance had already been paid by the ZTE to the Reyes-Abalos group. # # #

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Last Updated on Friday, 29 February 2008 15:35

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