WASHINGTON- The US Federal Bureau of Investigation Friday in Washington DC announced that a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned a nine-count indictment earlier today against Bettina Balderrama, a/k/a Bonnie Balderrama, 57, of Manila, Philippines.
“The indictment charges that Balderrama brokered approximately $15 million worth of fraudulent loan transactions between companies located in the Philippines and U.S. lending banks, in which the Ex-Im Bank acted as guarantor or insurer.” A Statement issued by the US Department of Justice released by the FBI says.
The Statement went on to say that the. “Ex-Im Bank, an independent agency of the United States, is the official export credit agency of the United States and issues loan guaranties and insurance to U.S. banks on behalf of creditworthy foreign companies for the purpose of purchasing U.S. goods. Once the Ex-Im Bank issues a loan guaranty or insurance policy, if the foreign borrower defaults on its loan repayments to a lending bank, the Ex-Im Bank pays the amount of the outstanding loan to the lending bank.”
Balderrama was described as a “loan broker from the Philippines has been charged in connection with a $15 million scheme to defraud the Export-Import Bank of the United States (the Ex-Im Bank),” Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Matthew Friedrich and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jeffrey A. Taylor announced today.
According to the indictment, between December 2001 and October 2004 Balderrama identified companies in the Philippines that wanted to borrow money to purchase U.S. goods and lending banks in the United States that would lend money for the purpose of buying U.S. goods. Balderrama then assisted the borrowers in executing loan agreements with the lending banks and in obtaining loan guaranties or insurance policies from the Ex-Im Bank as part of the loan agreements.
The indictment alleges that Balderrama recruited a U.S. exporter, Cristina Song, for the purpose of purchasing U.S. goods and shipping those goods to the Philippine borrowers, and then instructed Song to prepare false shipping documents and submit those false documents to the lending banks to make it appear that she had purchased and shipped goods.
The indictment alleges that Song did not purchase the goods called for in the loan agreements, and instead misappropriated a majority of the loan proceeds and sent large portions of those proceeds to bank accounts owned and controlled by Balderrama and other foreign bank accounts as directed by Balderrama.
Balderrama has been charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to commit offenses against the United States; three counts of submitting false statements to the Ex-Im Bank; one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering; three counts of money laundering; and one count of obstructing a proceeding before a department and agency of the United States.
If convicted, Balderrama faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison on the conspiracy charge; five years in prison on each of the false statement charges; 20 years in prison on the money laundering conspiracy charge; 10 years in prison on each of the money laundering charges; and five years in prison on the obstruction charge. The indictment also seeks forfeiture from Balderrama of the misappropriated loan proceeds.
Song, 50, of Whittier, Calif., an alleged co-conspirator of Balderrama, entered a guilty plea on Nov. 16, 2007, in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before Judge Richard W. Roberts, to a two-count information charging her with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count of mail fraud. Song was sentenced on Oct. 2, 2008, to 37 months in prison and three years of supervised release, and was ordered to forfeit $300,000 and pay restitution of more than $12 million to the Ex-Im Bank.
This case is part of a broader investigation into an $80 million scheme to defraud the Ex-Im Bank between November 1999 and December 2005. To date, eight individuals-Song, Daniel Curran, Edward Chua, David Villongco, Robert Delgado, Edward Javier, Jaime Galvez, and Carlos Serrano-have pleaded guilty or have been convicted at trial of charges related to their involvement in the fraud scheme.
Curran was sentenced on April 23, 2008, to 41 months in prison; Chua was sentenced on May 14, 2008, to 37 months in prison; Villongco was sentenced on Feb. 29, 2008, to 33 months in prison; Delgado was sentenced on Oct. 5, 2007, to 24 months in prison;
Javier was sentenced on July 18, 2008, to six months in prison; and Galvez was sentenced on Jan. 7, 2008, to 12 months in prison. Serrano was convicted by a federal jury in Los Angeles on Sept. 18, 2008, of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and bank fraud.
Serrano’s sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 26, 2009.
In addition, four other individuals-Marilyn Ong, Ildefonso Ong, Nelson Ti and Joseph Tirona-have been indicted by a federal grand jury in the District of Columbia for their alleged involvement in the scheme.
The cases are being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Hank Bond Walther of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Michael K. Atkinson, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. These cases are being investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Los Angeles Division and the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Philippines: Arroyo Visit Reinvigorates 400-Year Ties With Spain
Mike Cohen, Pacific News Center Correspondent 05.DEC.075:19 p.m.
|President Arroyo, escorted by Spanish King Juan Carlos I, troops the line of the Royal Honor Guards during the arrival honors and welcome ceremony for the President at the Palacio Real de el Pardo Front Courtyard|
Manila - Philippine-Spanish relations have moved forward in the wake of a four-day state visit to Madrid by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
"Spain has always defended my government, and once again, we are seeking the support of the Spanish government and business community to help us realize our vision of a modern Philippines in 20 years," the President said during a meeting with the leaders of Spain's Senate at the Plaza
de la Marina Espanola.
Escorted through Madrid's traffic-heavy streets by a contingent of Palace guards, national security officers and members of the municipal police, the President met with Spain's congressional leaders after the welcome ceremonies for her at the Palacio Real de El Pardo. The President, who speaks fluent Spanish, said "Our four-day state visit here reaffirms the deep historical, cultural, economic and
political ties between the Philippines and Spain."
She informed the Spanish legislators that she had directed government colleges and universities in the Philippines to reintegrate the Spanish language in their curricula. President Arroyo expressed her appreciation for the assistance Spain has extended to her administration in the fight against terrorism, particularly in Mindanao.
She said that now is the best time for Spanish business leaders to invest in the Philippines, particularly in renewable energy development, tourism and agriculture. President Arroyo also informed the Spanish legislators that through the initiative of Sen. Edgardo Angara, a member of her official delegation, she has declared June 30 of every year as the Fil-Hispano Day as a tribute to the shared history, values and traditions of the two nations.
Spanish Senate President Senor Don Francisco Rojo presented to President Arroyo a Senate Medal and a copy of the Atlas of the Iberian Peninsula and Spanish Overseas Territories, while Senor Manuel Marin Gonzales, president of Spain's Chamber of Deputies, presented her a Congressional Medal and a copy of the Spanish Constitution of 1812.
Rojo said the Philippines is a country to which the Spanish people "feel so much sentiment."
He echoed the President's previous statement that economic prosperity can only be achieved in a peaceful and stable environment, citing Spain's own experience with terrorism.
The Spanish Senate leader also expressed gratitude to the Philippine Senate's ratification of the Treaty on the Exchange of Sentenced Prisoners (TESP) between the two countries.
From the Senate, the President proceeded to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Plaza de Lealtad to lay a wreath before her private lunch with their Majesties King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia at the Palacio de la Zarzuela, the official residence of the King and Queen.
Spain: "Bullish on RP investments"
"The business community in is bullish on the Philippines as some companies here have already signified their interests in investing in the country," according to Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila.
Favila, who is among those accompanying Arroyo in her four-day state visit to Spain, said he had talked with executives of two business groups here who are planning to invest in shipping, food and beverage industries in the Philippines. "It's still exploratory but they have signified their interests," Favila said.
The San Miguel Corp. in Spain said they are interested to develop with San Miguel Philippines its new non-alcoholic beer. Another venture, the CMA-CGM, the world's third largest container shipping line, is keen on pouring its money into the Batangas Port. The full development of Batangas Port is needed to carry out the President's super regions economic grouping, as it plays a critical role in the economic and social development of the forelands such as Mindoro. Also, it is the primary port in the area used in the transfer of goods such as agricultural produce that includes copra, cement and logs to the market. The Batangas Port is also an important link in the President's Nautical Highway project. Favila said more meetings are scheduled with Spanish business leaders in a move to lure more investments.
Royal Honors for Arroyo
President Arroyo had a taste of the pomp and pageantry of royalty during the arrival ceremony given in her honor by Spanish King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia on Monday at the sprawling courtyard of the Palacio Real del El Pardo.
The President, dressed in a red coat paired with beige pump shoes, and First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo were met by the King and Queen at the entrance to the Royal Palace.
Alighting from a vintage Rolls Royce, the President, the First Gentleman and the Royal Couple engaged in an animated conversation before trooping the line of the Palace guardsmen.
The band then played the national anthem of the Philippines, followed by the national anthem of Spain and the traditional 21-gun salute accorded to visiting heads of state.
After the introduction of her delegation to the King and Queen, the President and the First Gentleman were ushered to the Tribune of Honor where they viewed the parade of the Royal Honor Guards.
The welcome ceremony for the President and the First Gentleman, which lasted 40 minutes, followed the tradition of the royalties in honoring their guests, complete with guardsmen in elaborate costumes and horse-riding Palace guards.
The President arrived in Madrid Sunday afternoon for a four-day state visit to Spain upon the invitation of the King and Queen.
The President and the First Gentleman are staying at the Palacio Real de El Pardo, an old royal hunting lodge dating back to the period of the Hapsburgs and Franceso Sabatini in the 18th century.
Richly decorated with frescoes and tapestries, the Royal Palace is located in a 15-kilometer square wooded parkland known as the Monte de el Pardo, one of the largest natural areas north of Madrid.
King Juan Carlos: Praise for end of death penalty
President Arroyo on Monday night earned the praises of His Majesty King Juan Carlos I for the abolition of the death penalty in the Philippines last year.
"The Philippines returned on 24 June last year to the forefront of liberties and the defense of human rights with the abolition of the death penalty, a gesture which gave us great satisfaction," his
Majesty said in his speech at the gala dinner in honor of the President who is on a four-day state visit to Spain from Dec. 2 to 5.
His Majesty noted that the repeal of the capital punishment in the Philippines was one of the reasons the President would "deservedly" receive the University of Alcala de Henares Gold Medal Tuesday.
"The move was applauded by the international community and by Spain in particular, and for which you will tomorrow, and deservedly, receive the University of Alcala de Henares Gold Medal," he said.
At the same time, the King mentioned the estimated 50,000 Filipinos living and working in Spain. "May I address all our affection and gratitude to the large Philippine community living in Spain and contributing to our well-being," he said.
His Majesty said Spain was committed to help the Philippines achieve peace and progress.
"Your country has been and will continue to be a target of special attention by Spanish Cooperation in Asia…We wish to reiterate to you our willingness to actively back the peace processes you have begun," he said.
Quoting Filipino national hero Jose Rizal, who said that the Philippines was "the Pearl of the Orient Sea," His Majesty noted that his country's former colony was "privileged by nature."
He said the Philippines' "prudent and intelligent use" of its natural resources would guarantee sustainable development.
King Juan Carlos I toasted the President's "personal venture, and that of your husband, and the fraternal ties linking the Philippines and Spain."
In response, the President thanked King Juan Carlos I and his wife, Queen Sofia de Grecia, for the warm welcome she and her delegation received from the Spanish government and the Spanish people.
The President also spoke in fluent Spanish when she thanked the Spanish government for its continued support of her administration, which "represents constitutional order."
"My government has overcome the attempts of undemocratic [forces]. Ihope that Spain always continues to support my government," she added.
The President also said the relationship between the two countries was further enhanced by the presence of a large Filipino community in Spain.
"We are proud of their contributions to this country," she said.
Like King Juan Carlos I, the President quoted Rizal. "Espana esta allí, alli donde deja sentir su influencia bienhechora, y aunque desapareciese su bandera, quedaría su recuerdo, eterno, imperecedero. (Spain is there, there where she lets us feel her beneficent influence, and although her flag has disappeared, she would be left in our eternal memory)," she said, citing this quote from the Filipino Renaissance man whose works inspired the 1896 revolution against Spain.
The President also offered her condolences to the Spanish people for the death of a "guardia civil" (policeman) in the hands of the Basque separatist group ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna or Basque for "Basque Homeland and Freedom"). ETA has been banned as a terrorist organization by both the Spanish and French authorities as well as the European Union, the United States, and the United Nations.
The President also mentioned the Philippines’ ratification of the Treaty for the Transfer of Sentenced Persons and her directive ordering the promotion of the Spanish language throughout the country. She talked of the various opportunities for trade and investments in the
Philippines. The President toasted to Their Majesties' "health, well-being, and happiness."
The menu at the gala dinner included potato cream with mild olive oil, medley of vegetables with cured beef, hake (a kind of fish) in two wines with fried spinach leaf, and chocolate brownie to be washed down with aged dry sherry, Vina Mein 2006, Hacienda Monasterio 2001 Reserve, and Gran Juve y Camps Grand Reserve. Music at the gala dinner was provided by the Royal Guard, led by its
director, Music Colonel Francisco Grau Vegara. Their pieces included 1492, Filipinas y Espana, Gigantes y Cabezudos, Musicales en Madrid, Serenata Filipina, Pepita Jimenez, Los Ultimos de Filipinas, and Aida. - Pacific News Center International
If ABC - Capitol Cities -Disney, had it's taste of Pinoy anger and petitions over the 'treatment' of Philippine Doctors.
AOL - Time Warner and its outfit Comedy Central are about to get a bit 'whacked ' I predict, for a slur versus three women world leaders.
So, no not once but twice fil-am's are upset over TV shows in the U.S.A., and perhaps even in two other countries - as a comedy central report on the daily show, bashed three of the worlds leading Woman Leaders.
Comedy Central is after-all a Joke - patterned on a newscast - it is filled with Saturday Night Live - like skits - passed off as news. It has had spin-off's and some success.
The show has been also sued, numerous times and had to apologize a lot went they go too far.
I think 'all in good fun is via bad taste - the motto - or show mantra.
Names of those hit this time, were Golda Mier, Margarette Thatcher, and yes, the Philippines own Corazon Aquino.
John Stewart, the daily show's host did seem to flinch at the end of the segment - there was no side comment or wisecrack - where in a comedian - portraying a brainless reporter - in a segment produced by Lindsey Crystal - and edited by - Einer Westerlund, or at least thats what is says on the skit graphics - which is adult comedy and irreverent about everything - but in my opinion it went way too far.
There are people in this world who have earned respect and done things for humanity that inspire, stand up for something decent, and show producers, its hots, editors, and writers, they do not like that.
They live to demean, destroy, dehumanize - all in the name of humor. They know not themselves how to be soemthing better than they are - so to make up for thier lously lives. They try and pull down the world with them into the pig-pen of despair, they call thier lives.
To people like this, hat sometimes things can be made better if one has, the will to work for it, and ability to strive and even in the face of great odds, succeed.
Is to them, unacceptable, that is why they are a joke themselves. brainless, remorseless, uncaring and insensitive.
They tell the world - don't have hero's we will destroy them - Don't have faith, be like John Stewart and be a Godless mud-sucker who spits out filth for all the world to laugh at.
Yes, they can be like John Stewart, and burn down all that is good in the name of humor and wit and make no other purpose in this world than to enrich themselves at the expense of making fun and ridiculing others.
It perhaps its because Stewart, has never done anything in this world in the name of human suffering. He laugh or makes jokes about Buirma's plight, He makes jest at killings of scores by blackwater, he does nothing but try and pass off all that is bad in the world with a lught. Why? because he and his cast of crazies, can't take it upon themselves to do anything that might make reality to real for themselves to see, feel, smell, taste, and view what really happens.
Because of the world did that- they would see that all he is making fun off - is the people themselves - one laugh at a time for all the misery that is there.
And 'Good people' and God and Country -never mind whose country - or what religion, its all fair game - to demean and destroy. Why? Because it make him and his producers feel good.
Yes, He is the happy global village idiot, who hopes people will be - silly enough - to laugh at his jokes-
When he and his team are rendering anyone or anything he and his staff can produce to be laughed, shamed, and brought dishonor upon. They are happiest.
Honor, that perhaps is not a word Mr. Stewart and his crew no nothing about, dignity, the human condition that so makes them nothing more than a bunch of heckling jackals that laugh and snicker to know they are alive.
There are great comedians, Mr. Stewart, is no longer one of them. He is like a fool who cannot see people are not laughing with him - but slowly- at him.
There are those who make fun of others and do it in good taste, there are those who take some time and think out what the impact of the actions they do will mean after they have written it.
And then, there is the daily show. In this particular segment, they malign three women of substance, for what?
Because perhaps their own lives are so full of nothing but the THT and Prozac in their veins to function.
They have never fought a battle, never sought to make a people free, never stood up for anything they could not piss down on except there brand of gutter humor that is only lughed at because of canned laughter - and - cued crowds by signs in the audiance can be cued along to what they think is fun. Kind of like the Nazi brownshirts tactics of using sick laughter to demean and destroy all those they wanted to - in - order to make sure no one knew that they were really evil.
Is the show Evil? No, maybe not, it has a evil intent though - like so many - to dehumanize people, to ridicule and render all but their own as the path and way.
Stewart's show, I actually found out, when I was watching this particular skit, and trying to be objective, that a young child looked at it and asked me.
'Why are those people laughing? its not funny?,' and, he walked away - I had written a blog in the hopes of trying to at least show- hey - look another jerk on American TV hates the rest of the world so badly he'll destroy all the icons of those who have been leaders- perhaps- because guys like Stewart and his people themselves cannot lead.
But only follow the dictates of whatever sick drug induced perversion filled brain wrote for them and created them to be. Sad, no hopes? No feeling of having seen the real world.
Stewart's a joke filled showbiz view of the world, is a dangerous one - it makes fun of the world so he and his producers can destroy anything good, decent, and well meaning?
And why? Not for some notion that it is humor, no it is subversion in its worst form. He destroys peoples hero's, Nations hero's, why because he hates his own country so much.
Now, the portion in questions happens, when the 'comedian' while getting a pap smear - the host of the segment proceeds to read of the names of the list of 'girl' leaders, her temr not mine - and talking about their work Golda for standing up to Egypt's armies, Thacher for facing down communists, and Aquino - for standing up to dictators.
But on the screen as pictures roll down on the reports laptop, is where it get way below the belt, literally - Mier had a derogatory word, a insult scrawled above her face, Baroness Thatcher, had her head put on the body 'cut and pasted' over a panty less pop tart star -
The Philippines former President Aquino was labeled as is pictured below.
All of this deserves a apology!
This one while distateful, perhaps in the name of comedy might too bad, but all the images that came before it in the 'comedy' showed nothing worth really seeing:
I debated about putting the image of what they did to Mrs. Thatcher - but just don't have the heart to do it. Why, because I have one.
Because I believe in something, because I will not try and make a point by stooping so low as to attempt to demean a woman honored so many times by a libelous image.
I am not British, but I must say, any leader who did even half of what Baroness Thacher did for England deserves better. They should fire whoever did this segment!
Not an apology - This goes too far if wardrobe malfunctions that got a fine from the FCC - perhaps even a suspension might be the case here.
But, we all know it won't happen, the networks make too much money and Stewarts show which is the best propaganda show, the opposition democrats have will never be axed while it is 'popular.'
But total irreverence - total disregard for all decency is what the show is built on.
They did spare Indira Ghandi and Benzanir Bhuto, perhaps because they know Pakistani's and Indian's have Nukes.
In the case of Mrs. Aquino, the comment of the four letter word written so calously across he picture could only have come from an ignorant writer who - just does not know what happened here in the Philippines 25 years on now.
But, I nominate the writers of this segment and even John Stewart - to the hall of the international shame if one existed.
You were not funny here. It was insulting. It went too far - this segment Mr. Stewart was not funny at all.
I used to like the show - I will not be watching anymore.
Hey, like they care, I'm just one viewer... yet I hope a few others do the same.
On another note - I remember the first time CNN International aired the daily show of comedy central - I was on duty at the desk of ABS-CBN in Manila - and - I actually had to call CNN in Atlanta to let them know that night many years ago - I had received a few dozen phone calls complaining about the show then.
Some people went to CNN that night only to find Stewarts show instead of news - and felt slighted or even angry.
The humor then, was a little too much for an International audience that didn't 'get it' right away.
Since then i hear they have improved but still it get a few hundred complaints - but - they are trained to be insensitive, heartless, and , to think everything in life is joke.
Yet, someday, the laughing will stop. Til then they'll make loads of money making fun of everything - and everyone.
Desperate Housewives was harmless compared to this - I suggest fil-am's and others dust of the petition for ABC and do another one perhaps?
If you want to complain - not that it will mean much - the link is below.
But, better yet, perhaps someone can write the MTRCB and just ban the show from Philippine airwaves and cable for a month.
Perhaps it'll be meaningless in overall world of the likes of Comedy Central, perhaps they'll even make a joke about or two.
But many will not be laughing, all those people they have hurt all these years - all those twisted lies and inuendo of making the worlds mot horrible disasters, atrocities, and destruction into something to make a little less serrious the thoughts of a world - when it really needs the ideals and dreams and inspiration of the women they so badl demeaned.
John, you are not funny, you are inhuman.