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Switzerland: Court Rules on Marcos Assets

(Jan. 15, 2009) On January 12, 2009, Switzerland's Federal Supreme Court ruled that assets deposited by an associate of Ferdinand Marcos, the former president of the Philippines, should be returned to the Philippines. The agency that will receive the funds is the Presidential Commission on Good Government of the Philippines (PCGG). The deposits amount to more than US$8 million and were placed in a Swiss bank before the 1986 overthrow of Marcos. The Philippine government successfully claimed that the funds were “ill-gotten” and should be returned. (Switzerland Court Orders Transfer of Ferdinand Marcos Assets to Philippines, PAPERCHASE NEWSBURST, Jan. 12, 2009, available at

In a related action in June 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down a request that assets held by Marcos and invested with Merrill Lynch in the United States be awarded to a set of claimants who argued that the funds were taken from the Philippines improperly. Merrill Lynch initiated an interpleader action to determine ownership of the funds, with the Philippines, PCGG, and Mariano Pimentel, who represented a class of 9,539 people with a judgment against the Marcos estate, as claimants. The Philippines and PCGG asserted sovereign immunity. The Supreme Court ruled that the Philippines was an indispensable party to the suit and was protected by sovereign immunity. (Id.; see also Supreme Court Rules in Marcos Assets, Litigating Agent, Sentencing Guideline Cases, PAPERCHASE NEWSBURST, June 12, 2008, available at
; Republic of Philippines v. Pimentel, No. 06-1204, 553 U.S. (forthcoming), slip opinion, Global Legal Information Network, (last visited Jan. 13, 2009).)