The Justice Department plans to send two prosecutors to the Philippines to pursue evidence of possible criminal activity by U.S. corporations during the 20-year reign of Ferdinand Marcos, according to department officials and other sources.
The prosecutors aim to review evidence gathered by the government of Corazon Aquino for use by U.S. grand juries in Alexandria, Va., and Pittsburgh and for a broader Justice Department review of possible corrupt U.S. business practices, according to the officials.
The Alexandria grand jury is investigating alleged kickbacks to Philippine officials, including Marcos' former military chief of staff, Gen. Fabian Ver. The Pittsburgh panel is probing payments by Westinghouse to a longtime Marcos associate, businessman Herminio Disini.
Officials said the Alexandria panel has issued new subpoenas for testimony by Ver and Eduardo M. Cojuangco Jr., former head of the Philippine coconut monopoly and one of Marcos' closest associates. The two refused to answer most questions in an appearance last month, sources said. The grand jury is next scheduled to meet April 23.
Administration officials have speculated that U.S. businesses paid kickbacks to Marcos and his associates, and that a special grand jury will be convened.
But sources close to the Justice review said it is in a preliminary stage and has not led to a new grand jury probe. The trip to Manila is in part an effort to "assess what evidence is out there that could boil down into criminal charges," according to a source.
Traveling to Manila will be Peter Clark, a specialist in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ted Greenberg, who heads the Alexandria investigation.
The trip grew out of a meeting last month between Jovito Salonga, chief Philippine investigator of Marcos' finances, and Assistant Attorney General Stephen Trott, a department spokesman said.
Trott and Salonga agreed to share information gathered here and in Manila.