Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wayback Archive: Fraport slams GMA-Pancho extort try before WB body

(from Tribune October 15, 2003)

Fraport slams GMA-Pancho extort try before WB body

GLORIA GOV�T WANTED CHENGS OUT, PRESIDENTIAL CRONIES IN ON PROJECT

By Angie M. Rosales
Wednesday, 10 15, 2003

The complaint lodged by Fraport AG Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide (Fraport) before the Word Bank arbitration body in Washington DC served to confirm the "tens of millions" extortion attempt made on the German investor by presidential aides, Gloria Tan-Climaco, presidential adviser on Strategic Projects; Presidential legal counsel Avelino "Nonong" Cruz; and his former partner and President Arroyo's personal lawyer, F. Arthur Pancho Villaraza.

Pressure was being brought to bear on Fraport by the presidential aides to kick out its Philippine partner in the Philipppine International Air Terminal Co. Inc. (Piatco) Terminal 3 project, the Cheng family, to ensure the takeover of the Cheng's shares by the presidential cronies of the project.

The German investor in the controversial multibillion-Piatco Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 confirmed the alleged extortion try by personal lawyer and aides of President Arroyo, whom it also charged of committing "unlawful acts."

The earlier reports on the Villaraza-Climaco-Cruz $70-million extortion try is the subject of numerous libel charges leveled against Tribune publisher and editor-in-chief Ninez Cacho-Olivares who wrote a series of articles on allegations involving at least three Palace personalities namely former Presidential Adviser on Strategic projects Gloria Tan-Climaco, presidential legal counsel Avelino "Nonong" Cruz and Mrs. Arroyo's personal lawyer F. Arthur "Pancho" Villaraza.

The reports were based on a taped conversation of Fraport officials and lawyers where millions of dollars were mentioned as the deal being brokered by Villaraza and others to Fraport, to ensure that the airport project, under certain conditions, one of which was the ouster of the majority shareholder and Filipino partners, the Cheng family, would not be messed around with by the Arroyo presidency.

The complaint from the German investors confirms the extortion attempt made by Vilaraza and the presidential aides.

In a copy of a request of arbitration filed by Fraport Ag Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide (Fraport) before the World Bank's International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) last Sept. 13 against the government, it cited as among the issues in dispute the allegations against Villaraza.

In their request complaint, Fraport cited among the issues the "government's insistence on the involvement of a politically well-connected lawyer," referring to Villaraza, without whom the project would not push through.

Fraport charged Climaco in its complaint, saying she had "stated over and over again that the government wanted Fraport to engage the services of the politically well-connected Manila lawyer Arthur L. 'Pancho' Villaraza."

Fraport noted that Villaraza is a presidential confidant and top fundraiser while Climaco played a prominent role in the alleged ouster of the Chengs with the intention to replace the Chengs with presidential cronies and the government-favored interests coming into the project.

"When Fraport first met with Villaraza... he stated he could work for Fraport only 'in the background' through other law firms without known ties with him," the complaint narrated.

"He also stated this requirement for representing Fraport likely would include that payments be made offshore to a bank account not in his law firm's name. When Fraport reported to Climaco it was not willing to engage Villaraza on such terms, she continued to insist that Fraport work with Villaraza.

"Climaco also made expressly clear to Fraport that the successful commercial operation of Naia Terminal 3 would not be allowed to occur unless Fraport engaged Mr. Villaraza," they said.

"Climaco continued to insist that Villaraza be hired. For example, she stressed during discussions with Fraport in early 2003 that Villaraza should be engaged to facilitate the ouster of the Cheng family from the Naia Terminal 3 investment. Villaraza told Fraport that he would be able to achieve this result upon payment for unspecified purposes of several tens of millions of US dollars," they added.

This issue, they said, started sometime late 2001 when the government told Fraport to look for dirt on the Chengs to kick them out of the project.

"The government's message to Fraport was clear, repeated and unlawful: Fraport was to facilitate by any means the ouster of the Cheng family with the goal that other government-favored interests would come into the project. The alternative was that Piatco would be prevented from operating the terminal, with the result that Fraport's investment would be destroyed," they said.

"In numerous oral communications, Climaco and (Nonong) Cruz made clear to Fraport that the government would not permit the Naia Terminal 3 investment to be successful as long as the Cheng family played a central role. She strongly suggested that the Cheng family should be forced to agree to a substantial reduction of its role in Piatco or to be totally replaced by other business interests," they said.

Fraport pinned Climaco, saying she even told them she had reason to believe that the Cheng family supposedly had been involved in high-level wrongdoing with another then member of the Cabinet regarding the clearing of the site for the project as well as other improper conduct.

"She pressed Fraport to provide the Philippines information damaging to the Cheng family," they said.

"Climaco also unlawfully demanded that Fraport take steps to pressure the Cheng family..at another point, she told Fraport to immediately commence civil legal proceedings against Piatco in connection with certain loan repayment obligations," the complaint said.

In return, Fraport said it was given repeated assurance that the "government would show its gratitude if Fraport assisted against the Cheng family and they were be rewarded for such assistance."

Among these alleged rewards was protection against exposure of the country's anti-dummy laws resulting from the corporate structure of Piatco.

"At other points, Climaco threatened that Fraport might find itself facing anti-dummy law problems if the Cheng family was not ousted," the complaint stated.

"When the government failed to achieve the ouster of the Cheng family or agreement to changes in the concession agreement, the administration responded by denouncing the project and by taking the position in the Philippine Supreme Court proceedings that the concession agreement should be declared null and void.

"The nullification of the concession agreement and the refusal to compensate Fraport are, in effect, Fraport's ultimate punishment for failing to abide the government's unlawful demands," they said in their complaint before the ICSID.

This formed part of the privilege speech delivered by opposition Sen. Panfilo Lacson last Monday.

The complaint carried more stinging accusations of corruption and dirty political play that Fraport said was exercised only under the presidency of Gloria Arroyo, stressing that none of these "unlawful acts" was performed in the previous administration of President Joseph Estrada.

"The reasons that an essentially complete, state of the art (airport) terminal has sat empty and idle for more than eight months are wholly political," the complaint said, adding the "Philippines' unlawful acts regarding Fraport's NAIA Terminal 3 investment did not begin until Fraport had, in reliance upon the Concession Agreement and the Philippine Government's Treaty undertaking to provide fair treatment to German investors, made essentially all its investments."

Fraport, in its complaint stated that "officials of the Macapagal-Arroyo adminsitration began insisting that Fraport take steps to assist with the ouster of the Cheng family, so that (the Arroyo) government-favored interests could participate instead."

It also stated that "when the government failed to achieve the ouster of the Cheng family or agreement to changes in the concession Agreement, the administration responded by denouncing the project and by taking the position in the Philippine Supreme Court proceedings that (the contract) should be declared null and void. The nullification of the Concession Agreement and the refusal to compensate Fraport, are in effect, Fraport's ultmate punishment for failing to abide by the (Arroyo) government's unlawful demands."

9 comments:

john marzan said...

of course, these corruption and extortion allegations were all just made up by the tribune out of whole cloth just to "hurt the feelings" of The Firm boys and embarass them.

of course, these are just FABRICATED allegations--OF COURSE! out of the figment of her imagination.

gemini said...

... maybe not out of the figment of her imagination but from a polluted source ... On this source, Ninez has been given this advice by no less than the PPI President:

"Shoot your source, Niñez

NIñez was obviously given a copy of an alleged tape where Pancho and Villaraza are alleged to have solicited money from Fraport, the German partner of the ill-fated Piatco.

She probably trusts her source with her soul. The suggestion in the records of the libel case filed against her by Villaraza and the member of the Firm, is that the contents of the tape were taken straight out of the Bible.

They were not, according to RTC Judge Winlove Dumayas.

That being the case, Niñez should go hammer and tongs against her source or sources.

She was had. In fact, she might have been used as a tool by the enemies of Villaraza who is not my friend either.

Somebody sent me a copy of the tape. I found the tape on my desk. I played it and listened intently. Unfortunately, I could not make out who was saying what. I disposed of the tape in the garbage heap.

I do not know until now who sent it.

If the tape used by Niñez was given to her by a source she never doubted before, she should even up the score, pronto. She has been had by her source."

So, one can say that Ninez is really a victim here... but for spreading some story as gospel truth without checking or verifying her sources which turned out to be dud, who is really to blame???

john marzan said...

So, one can say that Ninez is really a victim here... but for spreading some story as gospel truth without checking or verifying her sources which turned out to be dud, who is really to blame???

see, it wasn't just the tape that made this a serious story. i already posted the oh-so-real complaint lodged by FRAPORT, a big and well-known German trasnport company, against the Philippine gov't and some of it's officials and characters.

and guess what, the contents of the tape jive with the allegations in FRAPORT'S arbitration request.

john marzan said...

"Shoot your source, Niñez"

what? shoot FRAPORT?

i don't think the tapes were admitted in winlove's court anyway because they were "illegally recorded."

besides, if you want to read all allegations against villaraza, climaco and co., all one has to do is to read the FRAPORT arbitration request vs. the Phil. Gov.

gemini said...

"see, it wasn't just the tape that made this a serious story. i already posted the oh-so-real complaint lodged by FRAPORT, a big and well-known German trasnport company, against the Philippine gov't and some of it's officials and characters.

and guess what, the contents of the tape jive with the allegations in FRAPORT'S arbitration request."


Well, of course it isn't just about the libel case! Ninez was just used, that much is obvious... who was behind it? well, you said so yourself that the "source" was FRAPORT. Although I must say it is a logical conclusion considering that (as you pointed out above) it used the extortion yarn in its request for arbitration with the ICSID...

But, in case you didn't know yet, the ICSID already issued a ruling on the arbitration case. It dismissed the allegations of extortion by Fraport, and in fact ruled that Fraport's investment in PIATCO was full of violations of Philippine laws, particularly the Anti-Dummy Law!

Here's the rest of the column of J. Macasaet today for everybody's info:


"No extortion

Early this year or late last year, the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington DC ruled that there was no extortion as alleged by Fraport in a request for arbitration.

Although the ICSID and the regional trial court in Makati have no similarity except that both are involved in the settlement of disputes (ICSID is limited to investments) it would be odd to see the two different venues making contrary rulings on what might be described as identical cases.

It must be pointed out though that Fraport, the German partner of Piatco, accused the Philippine government of violating an investment agreement with Germany by tolerating extortion.

The case of Olivarez also involved alleged extortion. The ICSID ruled that there was none.

Might we now presume that Ms. Olivarez, publisher of the hard-hitting Tribune, was trapped into writing that Villaraza and the Firm tried to extort money from Fraport? I suspect she was. The unfortunate part is she did not get the side of Villaraza precisely because she thought that what she was told was gospel truth.

Extortion and money laundering

The ruling of the ICSID that there was no extortion from Fraport is backed by several case for violating anti-money laundering law filed against several officials of the Germany company and Fraport.

The case have not been resolved.

As if to delay the proceedings, an official of Piatco went to the Supreme Court and claimed that the ex-parte case filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council is illegal.

The council shot back and declared if the petition had not been filed ex-parte the respondents would be adequately warned.

It was probably the ex-parte petition that allowed the council to lay its hands on deposits which the council suspects as laundered money.

Where did the money come from? The answer is ICSID ruled there was no extortion.

We are now saying that the extortion was a yarn woven by Fraport or maybe its German and Filipino lawyers to appease the investors in Frankfurt, Germany."

john marzan said...

Well, of course it isn't just about the libel case! Ninez was just used, that much is obvious... who was behind it? well, you said so yourself that the "source" was FRAPORT. Although I must say it is a logical conclusion considering that (as you pointed out above) it used the extortion yarn in its request for arbitration with the ICSID...

other newspapers have reported the allegations found in that FRAPORT complaint to the WB too. it was a big story. a legitimate story.

it's just that ninez was ahead of the curve in what FRAPORT's intentions were because of the leaks. her newspaper was reporting in advance what we would all later find out--FRAPORT is serious with it's allegations, that the "letters of apology" were just a way to keep the influential wolves at bay until the complaint has been filed.

this is libel? this is weak shit. if you want to read a real libel case, look at what the inquirer did to lacson in 2001. they weren't just reporting, THEY WERE PART OF THE STORY, along with a host of unsavory and unreliable characters. that was when PDI was still a pro-GMA paper.

john marzan said...

But, in case you didn't know yet, the ICSID already issued a ruling on the arbitration case. It dismissed the allegations of extortion by Fraport, and in fact ruled that Fraport's investment in PIATCO was full of violations of Philippine laws, particularly the Anti-Dummy Law!

and FRAPORT wants to appeal that decision.

“Following extensive discussion of the World Bank arbitration tribunal’s decision received on August 17, the Fraport AG executive board is examining possible further legal steps and is considering to apply for annulment of this decision,” according to a Fraport press release posted on its website on Friday.

john marzan said...

all i can say is ninez is a easy target. and some in the media, some who were just as recently being harassed by private citizen mike arroyo of libel, decided to throw her under the bus.

ronaldjason said...

Gloria Arroyo, who is smart, should honor contracts and commitments from other countries. She and Alfonso Cusi does not know anything in airport management and rush airlines to operate on naia 3. Airlines needs to inform the airline headquarters overseas.

She and First Gentleman, should consult the contractors, because Fraport has built good airports overseas, and a President should know that airports are key to economic progress. Gloria is arrogant and stupid because look the EU and Germany hates investing here. Gloria if you want your image in Europe go best please pay for the airport that you treated like a pig.