A Filipino woman accused of masterminding a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme involving several Philippine elected officials was indicted along with multiple relatives Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles for allegedly laundering bilked public funds through Southern California banks.
Jannet Lim Napoles, 54, who is facing charges in the Philippines, is accused along with five relatives of funneling about $20 million in Philippine public money to Southern California, then using the money to purchase real estate and a pair of Porsche Boxsters, while also paying living expenses for three relatives residing in the United States.
The money in question was collected through an alleged fraud scheme in which public money from a “Priority Development Assistance Fund” in the Philippines was paid to organizations controlled by Napoles, with the money intended to pay for development projects. Prosecutors contend that such projects were never carried out, and the money instead was used for kickback payments to Philippine elected officials or diverted to Napoles’ family.
The fraud scheme was discovered during an audit in 2012. Napoles was arrested the following year and her family’s bank accounts were frozen in the Philippines. Southern California prosecutors contend that Napoles and her family tried to liquidate the money in the United States, then secretly return some of the funds back to the Philippines and into other U.S. and United Kingdom accounts. Some of the funds were also sent to one of her relatives — Jeane Catherine Napoles, 28 — who used the money to finance her lifestyle and open a fashion business, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Jannet and Jeane Napoles were both named in the indictment Tuesday, along with Jo Christine Napoles, 34, James Christopher Napoles, 33, Reynald Luy Lim, 52, and Ana Marie Lim, 47. They are facing charges including conspiracy to commit money laundering, domestic money laundering and international money laundering.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has seized about $12.5 million in Southern California real estate connected to the fraud, prosecutors said.