American lawyer Robert Swift has spent decades looking for traces of the hidden wealth of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos after he won a class action lawsuit in Hawaii for victims of Martial Law.
Swift, who appears in a short Bloomberg documentary released on August 5, believes that part of the missing $10 billion of siphoned state funds would make its way to the 2022 elections.
“I’m confident that some of the money that was acquired by Ferdinand Marcos and hidden is going to find its way in the 2022 elections in the Philippines,” he said in the video The Mystery of a Dictator’s Missing $10 Billion Fortune.
Swift had convened possibly the most expensive first-ever human rights class-action case in history, citing an obscure statute called the Alien Tort Claims Act.
Under the statute, it is stated that:
“The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only committed in violation of the law of nations or treaty of the United States.”
The case progressed into a trial in 1992. In 1994, the jury reached a verdict wherein the total settlement amounted to a staggering $2 billion.
The main problem, however, was turning this written verdict to cash to compensate for the Martial Law victims and their kin.
In the video, Swift and the narrator Bloomberg author Haley Cohen Gilliland recounts the former’s difficulties in going after the late dictator’s assets and properties in the Philippines and overseas.
The lawyer noted that what made the situation difficult here was that Philippine courts did not recognize the judgment granted under a U.S. court.
In a related article titled “Where did Marcos hide his $10 billion fortune?” it was stated that American litigators have only recovered $10 million to settle compensations as of 2010.
Swift then flew to the Philippines in February 2011 to personally hand a $1,000 check to each human rights victim registered in their class suit.
“It had been such a struggle to obtain the settlement. I wanted to make sure the money landed in the right hands,” he was quoted as saying.
The money was paid for by Marcos’ confidante Jose Yao Campos who told the Philippine government that he set up shell corporations in the Dutch Antilles for the Marcoses in 1986.