An article yesterday about congressional hearings on the financial holdings of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda, confused the officials and functions of several banks. Security Bank and Trust Co. in Manila is headed by Rolando Gapud and is unrelated to Security Pacific National Bank in Los Angeles. Loans on properties allegedly connected to the Marcos family are held by Security Pacific Mortgage Co. in California, which, with its sister corporation, Security Pacific National Bank, is owned by Security Pacific Corp., a holding company.
Imelda Marcos, wife of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, told a New York gathering in the fall of 1984 that she wanted the finances of four Manhattan properties arranged so that she could "pull $70 million out of them" in three years, a former real estate company executive said yesterday.
Victor Politis also told the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asian and Pacific affairs that he had been told that the properties, now worth about $350 million, were "a gift by Mr. Marcos to his wife."
Politis, formerly executive vice president of New York Land Co., a real estate firm that manages the four properties, joined two current officials of the company as the final witnesses in the subcommittee's hearings on published reports that the Marcoses and their associates have funneled hundreds of millions of dollars into U.S. properties in New York, California and Nevada.
The question has become a political issue in the Philippines, where Marcos is facing the toughest reelection fight of his 20 years in office in elections set for Feb. 7.
Subcommittee Chairman Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.) said the five hearings provided "a ton of evidence . . . that the Marcoses are indeed the owners of these properties" in New York. He said the testimony "raises very serious questions" on whether the United States should continue to provide the Philippines with foreign aid, which this year totals $260 million.
Rep. Gerald B. Solomon (R-N.Y.) elicited from each witness the admission that nowhere was there a document with a Marcos name on it. "There is still no real evidence," Solomon said.
Solomon said Solarz "set out to try to sway that election in the Philippines and he has done that very well." The hearings, while largely unmentioned in the Philippine government-controlled press, have received banner headlines in the opposition media.
Politis said his boss at New York Land, company president Joseph Bernstein, brought him to the 1984 meeting to defend the firm's management of the properties before Imelda Marcos. He said Bernstein had told him and the two other executives in a May 1984 meeting that "the rumors were true . . . that Mrs. Marcos owned the properties." Bernstein also told him they were a gift to her from Ferdinand Marcos, Politis said.
At the luncheon meeting on the buildings, Imelda Marcos "said she wanted them kept in tip-top shape, and that she wanted a strong manager in New York," Politis said. She added "that she wanted to be able to refinance in 1987 to pull $70 million out of them," he related.
The other two New York Land executives, vice president for investments Morad Tahbaz and vice president for finance James Breslin, confirmed that they had emerged from the May meeting with Bernstein with "the distinct impression that Mrs. Marcos had an interest in those properties," as Breslin put it.
Bernstein and his co-president, his brother Ralph, were cited for contempt of Congress by the Foreign Affairs Committee after refusing to testify on this issue. Solarz said the citation will be brought to the House for a vote after the congressional recess that ends Feb. 17.
John Cronin, an investigator assigned to the subcommittee probe by the General Accounting Office, yesterday read into the record an affidavit from the Security Pacific National Bank in Manila that it is "common knowledge" that the bank's president, Rolando Gapud, "is one of the financial advisers to President Marcos."
Cronin then traced $1.3 million from Gapud's bank to a sister bank in New York, where he said it was applied to cover a shortfall of cash to renovate one property, the Herald Center shopping mall at 34th St. and Avenue of the Americas.