Among the papers left behind by President Ferdinand Marcos when he fled the Malacanang presidential palace Tuesday is a 1982 contract for the purchase of a major office building in downtown Manhattan for $70 million.
The contract and supporting documents for the 71-floor office tower at 40 Wall St. were stored in a brown folder marked "PFM's copy." PFM was palace shorthand for President Ferdinand Marcos.
The documents do not identify Marcos or his family as the purchaser. But their presence in palace files appears to support allegations that the Marcoses amassed enormous hidden wealth abroad during their 20 years in power.
Witnesses, including bankers who arranged loans for the properties, told the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Asia and Pacific affairs in January that 40 Wall St. was among four Manhattan properties worth more than $350 million owned by Marcos and his wife, Imelda, through various offshore corporations, banks and agents.
The Marcoses always denied the charge, and critics of the proceedings noted that no documents bore their names. The new documents go beyond any papers that previously have been made public to establish links among the buildings, banks, agents and advisers known to have acted for the Marcoses.
Independent estimates of their wealth range as high as $6 billion. Marcos' 1984 income tax returns, viewed in the palace, reported total earnings of about $46,700 from his salary as president and various business interests, none of which include the offshore corporations, banks or agents that have surfaced in connection with the New York properties.
The new government of Corazon Aquino has set up a commission to recover misappropriated property.
The documents, which were viewed by a Washington Post reporter, name the ultimate owner of the company that bought the building as a trust at a subsidiary of the Standard Chartered Bank in Hong Kong. The documents do not show who controlled that account.
The House last week cited two New York brothers, Joseph E. Bernstein and Ralph J. Bernstein, for contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions during the House hearings from subcommittee chairman Rep. Stephen J. Solarz (D-N.Y.) about the relations of their real estate firm, New York Land, with the Marcos family.
The two men are named in the palace documents as executors of the purchase. Testimony at Solarz's hearings established their firm as manager of all four properties.
This week the Bernsteins announced plans to sell three of the four major Manhattan buildings, including 40 Wall St. Solarz has threatened to file a court injunction to stop the proceedings on the ground that the sale would make it more difficult for the new Philippine government to recover Marcos' wealth.
The palace documents start with a Dec. 20, 1982, cover letter from the Chartered Bank Hong Kong Trustee Ltd., a Hong Kong subsidiary of the Standard Chartered Bank, one of the largest in the colony. It is addressed to a Willian Yan of a company with offices in Hong Kong called the Unam Corp.
Citing a trust account number, it says: "As arranged, please confirm to our principal that the following companies are owned by the above trust." It then lists three companies described as Panamanian: Beneficio Investment Inc., Bueno-Total Investment Inc. and Excelencia Investment Inc., and three companies described as registered in the Netherlands Antilles.
The next document, dated Dec. 27 and entitled "Real Estate Transaction," outlines the sale of 40 Wall St. Its author and origin are not identified. It says the contract was executed on Dec. 8, 1982, and provides for a closing on Dec. 31. It identifies the sellers as Henry A. Loeb and George V. Comfort, joint tenants, and an entity called 40 Wall Associates.
The purchaser is identified as a company called Nyland (CF8) Ltd., which is described as being owned by the three Panamanian companies, which are in turn owned by the Hong Kong trust account.
It said the purchase price was set at $70,126,228.81, with $7 million down, $13,155,865.86 in assumption of a first mortgage held by the New York State Teachers Retirement System, $7,970,362.95 in assumption of a second mortgage held by Westinghouse Credit Corp., and $42 million due on closing.
These figures correspond with testimony from witnesses before Solarz's committee concerning a $70 million loan and $49 million in equity for the purchase of the building.
Next is a telex from a New York law firm to Roland C. Gapud, identified as chairman and president of the Security Bank and Trust Company, a Philippine bank. He is known to have been a longtime middleman in Marcos' business dealings.
In the telex, Irwin Jay Robinson, writing for the law firm of Rosenman Colin Freund Lewis and Cohen, said the firm reviewed the purchase contract at Gapud's request and concluded that "based on our limited review," the contract did not seem to pose significant legal problems for the closing.
There is also a Dec. 21, 1982, telex memo from William B. Deyo Jr. of Bernstein Carter and Deyo, the New York law firm of the Bernstein brothers, to an entity called the Antillean Management Corp., providing for shares to be transferred from Nyland to the Panamanian companies.
The telex also contains the text of a document entitled "Unanimous Written Action of Managing Directors of Nyland (CF8) Ltd." It declares that the Bernsteins, identified as managing directors of Nyland, will execute and deliver the purchase contract for 40 Wall St.
The purchase contract itself runs 70 pages, with 27 "schedules" tacked onto the end. They give details on lease arrangments and union contracts related to the building. It is signed by Loeb, Comfort, the Bernsteins and others. There is no word on whether the closing went through as scheduled.
Also left behind in Marcos' files were numerous, apparently unsolicited letters to him from real estate agents and art dealers in the United States and Europe offering properties for sale.
One July 8, 1982, letter to Imelda Marcos from a London art dealer included a large color transparency of a 1901 Picasso painting entitled "Mother and Child."
"It is an extraordinarily beautiful painting and something I think you would like very much. The cost is $3 million," the letter said.