By Raissa Robles
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation is aware of the suspicious transactions” of the power couple, Congressman Mikey Arroyo and his cousin-wife Angela Montenegro-Arroyo, a US expert on anti-money laundering and financial transactions confirmed to me last night.
My source for this is James Triguero, the same one whom ABS-CBN reporter Nadia Trinidad interviewed lengthily on the same subject yesterday.
- James Triguero is interviewed live by Nadia Trinidad
James Triguero is also the person whom Ellen Tordesillas and I referred to as “Jay” in previous posts on Mikey Arroyo’s unexplained wealth.
I asked James why he has come out openly on this issue. His explanation triggered the following question:
Does Congressman Mikey Arroyo have a Green Card or US citizenship? Can one be a member of Philippine Congress even if you have a Green Card?
James became my FB friend a year ago. He is very knowledgeable on finance and auditing because that is his field. Between 1991 and 1997, he worked in the Defense Finance and Accounting Service of the US Air Force. After that until the present, he became a security broker, for which he had to take the required yearly training against Anti-Money Laundering. He is also at present a financial advisor at Ameripise Financial.
Why has James taken the trouble to voice his opinions on such a politically hot subject? Because James has become “Filipinized” without even living in Manila. He is married to Ivy Nieva (Good for you, Ivy) and is actively involved with the Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce of Santa Clara County.
He’s also upset that Congressman Mikey acquired two property loans from IndyMac Bank, which collapsed in 2008 due to unsafe mortgage lending practices. The collapse affected many average Americans. CNN called it “the largest bank collapse since 1984.”
FBI and the Arroyos
I did not quite understand why a countrywide agency like the FBI could be interested in such a small transaction as that of Congressman Mikey. Meaning, small in dollar terms if you compare it to the ones involving jailed, ex-stock broker and financial advisor Bernie Madoff.
I said “could” because the FBI may well decide this is just too small potatoes for them and simply drop it .
Here’s how James explained it to me.
Based on James’ scrutiny of available state records on the Arroyo property, he said Congressman Mikey bought the US$1.32 million beach property at 1655 Beach Park Blvd. in Foster City CA in this manner.
Congressman Mikey paid a 20% downpayment of US$264,000
He drew two mortgages on the property from IndyMac Bank –
$858,000 as first mortgage,
then $198,000 as second mortgage
James said that although the property records do not list Congressman Mikey anywhere as the initial owner, he is pretty sure Congressman Mikey was because of a notation on the real estate record of that property in 2006. It named “Angela Montenegro” as the owner via “interspousal transfer.”
In 2006, Angela was already much married to Congressman Mikey and even had an offspring together. So why would a property in the US be recorded by the couple under her maiden name “Montenegro”?
James suspects this is a way to skirt the US Patriot Act.
Whoa, there. Nobody ever said this power couple were terrorists. What do they have to do with the US Patriot Act that was enacted following the 2001 World Trade Center bombing in New York?
James pointed to Sub-section 3 of the US Patriot Act, requiring private banks “to conduct enhanced scrutiny” of any private bank account connected to “a senior foreign political figure” or his or her immediate family member or close associate.
James explained to me:
“The US has regulations in place now to make it difficult to bring corruption proceeds here as (Ferdinand) Marcos did. Any time you open a bank account here, you are asked if you are a foreign government official or related to one. Those accounts require Enhanced Due Diligence procedures and verifiable “sources of wealth” or the account can’t be opened.
Lying about that is a crime and transferring the house to “Angela Montenegro” and later to Beachway LLC was an attempt to bypass these requirements that apply to “Senior Foreign Political Figures.”. I am sure they answered “no” to those questions when the Beachway bank account was opened. They originally tried to sell the house. Angela could’ve had a bank account to deposit the title company check into, even though she was the daughter-in-law of the President of the Philippines and wife of a congressman at that time.
Here’s the pertinent portion of Sub-Section 3, Section 312 of the US Patriot Act that James is referring to:
(3) MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR PRIVATE BANKING ACCOUNTS-
If a private banking account is requested or maintained by, or on behalf of, a non-United States person, then the due diligence policies, procedures, and controls required under paragraph (1) shall, at a minimum, ensure that the financial institution takes reasonable steps–
(A) to ascertain the identity of the nominal and beneficial owners of, and the source of funds deposited into, such account as needed to guard against money laundering and report any suspicious transactions under subsection (g); and
(B) to conduct enhanced scrutiny of any such account that is requested or maintained by, or on behalf of, a senior foreign political figure, or any immediate family member or close associate of a senior foreign political figure that is reasonably designed to detect and report transactions that may involve the proceeds of foreign corruption [underlining mine].
James says the Philippine government might be able to easily request for the original loan documents pertaining to the Arroyo beach property since IndyMac Bank has already been taken over by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the US equivalent of the PDIC.
Very interesting, James, especially if we connect this to allegations of the Philippine Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) that the lovely Angela never filed income taxes between 2003 to 2009.
James also wants to know whether fraudulent documents and statements were made in order to obtain the two mortgages from IndyMac. Did Congressman Mikey or wifey for instance claim to be either Permanent Residents or US Citizens on the mortgage documents?
Finally, James wonders if this is a case of inter-continental money laundering. He told me:
This was a concern of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen). This was a loophole that has since been closed. The mortgage was paid off in 2 years. Maybe they wired $50,000 a month to pay it off. At that time mortgage companies weren’t required to file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs). Banks would report suspicious wire transfers or large cash deposits of $10,000 plus via SARs to the US Treasury. There are also risks associated with smuggling cash as General Garcia and the Euro Generals can attest to.
FinCen is a network linking law enforcement agencies with financial and regulatory communities.
Cong. Mikey has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. It’s just business, man, not corruption in action.
Hey, I have a terrific idea, Congressman Mikey. Why don’t you get James to be your financial advisor for Beachway LLC. You sorely need one. Fast.
If you’re interested to know more what James told ABS-CBN’s Balitang America, here’s the link.