Philippines Mulls Charges Against Police Chief’s Wife

Government investigators on Friday called for criminal charges against the wife of the Philippine police chief and 12 senior officers in an alleged cash smuggling plot uncovered in Russia.

Government investigators on have called for criminal charges against the wife of Philippine police chief Jesus Verzosa — seen here in 2006 — and 12 senior officers in an alleged cash smuggling plot uncovered in Russia

The Ombudsman, the chief state anti-graft prosecutor, received the formal complaint and is expected to decide in three months whether to file criminal charges in court, said assistant Ombudsman Joselito Fangon.

“We have a strong case. They can deny the facts but the case is based mainly on documentary evidence from the national police,” Fangon told AFP.

Moscow customs police detained the group when 105,000 euros (about 135,000 dollars) in undeclared cash was discovered in their luggage while they were travelling to an Interpol conference in the Russian capital.

The group included Cynthia Verzosa, wife of Jesus Verzosa who would later become Philippine police chief. Her husband was not on the Moscow trip.

The group was later released without charge but the incident sparked uproar back home over alleged police corruption.

A subsequent police inquiry led to the graft complaint, Fangon said.

The “Euro Generals”, as they became known by the local press, have insisted the money came from the police budget and was reserved for “contingency” during the trip.

However Fangon said the inquiry found that the money belonged to the then national police comptroller Eliseo de la Paz, who was on the Moscow trip.

Fangon said investigators did not know where the money came from but under local law, having large amounts of money, far above his official salary, was already grounds for suspicion that de la Paz had obtained the money illegally.

The inquiry called for money smuggling charges to be filed against de la Paz, while corruption charges were recommended for the other officials over an alleged cover-up attempt, said Fangon.

Verzosa’s wife is accused of misrepresenting herself as a government employee so the state would pay for her trip.

Fangon said only two or three of the 12 generals were still in active service and that the rest had already retired or resigned.

Philippine officials have been under pressure to crack down on corruption since President Benigno Aquino took office in June, promising widespread reforms.

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