Man held in scam over fake Marcos gold certificates

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The Independent Online
Police have uncovered an attempted pounds 5bn fraud against a bank in London involving gold supposedly hoarded by Ferdinand Marcos, the former Philippines dictator.

A 47-year-old Australian is accused of trying to trade fake gold certificates giving him access to tons of bullion in a Swiss bank.

The man, who has not been named, was arrested on Monday in Melbourne after an operation involving the City of London and Australian police. Earlier this month a group of Australians is said to have approached Rothschild bank and asked for $7bn credit.

As collateral it is said to have been offered certificates showing ownership of the bullion, said to be worth $9bn. The bank contacted police, who alerted investigators in Melbourne.

The two forces carried out a joint operation to track down the man and recover the certificates. The man, from the Melbourne suburb of Albert Park, has been charged with possessing false documents and was bailed on Monday to appear in court in February.

Inspector Jeff Calderbank, heading the inquiry in Australia, said: "It's alleged that a number of people approached the bank in London to trade gold certificates for a line of credit to the value of $7bn.

The gold was allegedly worth $9bn, but they were asking for only a percentage as a line of credit. "They were holding forged gold certificates. It is alleged that the gold bullion ... was supposed to be held in a Swiss bank (and) was bullion from the coffers of Ferdinand Marcos."

Under the state of Victoria's Crimes Act, the man can be tried in Australia and does not need to be extradited to London. In 1986 Marcos and his wife, Imelda, fled the Philippines when a popular movement ended his rule. They flew to Hawaii, where Ferdinand died in 1989.

He is reported to have stashed billions of dollars in gold in Swiss vaults during his rule. But, despite searches, the Philippines has failed to prove the gold exists.

Mrs Marcos says her husband legitimately built up a fortune by trading in gold, but the certificates were stolen when they fled the Philippines.