A former business associate of Philippine First Lady Imelda Marcos who contended in a lawsuit that Marcos defrauded him over the purchase of a Long Island estate has agreed to an out-of-court settlement that includes a public retraction of his charges.
The lawsuit, filed last February in the United States, helped fuel a political controversy in the Philippines that led to the filing of an impeachment resolution last month against President Ferdinand Marcos by 56 opposition members of the country's 200-seat National Assembly.
The suit was especially sensitive because of longstanding allegations that the Marcoses and associates have secretly transferred hundreds of millions of dollars in capital to the United States in recent years as insurance against a government overthrow. The Marcoses have denied owning U.S. property, but Pablo Figueroa, a Paterson, N.J., doctor, charged in the lawsuit that Imelda Marcos "does business . . . systematically and continuously" in New York state.
The lawsuit's charges were included in the text of the impeachment resolution, which also charged that the Marcos family had used a complex web of corporate fronts to buy up extensive New York City properties, including a midtown Manhattan office building, a $200 million shopping center and three luxury condominiums, as well as a 13-acre estate in Princeton, N.J., and mansions in Honolulu, Beverly Hills, Calif., Rome and London.
When the resolution was filed last month, progovernment Assembly members denounced it as the product of "unsubstantiated news reports, irresponsible speculations and gossips." But some said the suit could force disclosures about the Marcoses' business dealings onto the record for the first time.
Figueroa had charged he was a stockholder in a New York state corporation controlled by Imelda Marcos that, in February 1981, bought a $5 million seaside Long Island property, according to a copy of the lawsuit filed in Suffolk County, N.Y. The property was to be developed into a $19 million resort, Figueroa charged, but Marcos decided instead to turn the property, known as Lindenmere, into "her private personal estate."
Figueroa contended that Marcos transferred ownership of Lindenmere to a Netherlands Antilles corporation called Ancor Holdings N.V. and failed to pay him for the $1 million value of his stock.
But last Friday, a settlement was reached in which Figueroa agreed to drop the suit and publicly say that "he now realizes that Mrs. Marcos' name should not have been included," according to Paul Edelman, a New York lawyer who represents Figueroa.
Edelman said that a press release on the settlement had been prepared but that, under the agreement, all information about it would come from Irwin Robinson, a New York lawyer who represented the five named defendants, including Imelda Marcos. Robinson said yesterday he has no comment on the matter. Figueroa did not return phone calls to his office.