A federal judge said Friday he would order two Swiss banks to transfer hundreds of millions of dollars into a fund for 10,000 human rights victims of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos.
U.S. District Judge Manuel Real did not issue the order but told lawyers for both the victims and the Swiss banks that he would soon.
A federal court jury in Honolulu awarded the victims nearly $2 billion for human rights violations during the Marcos regime. Real ruled in May that the victims could collect an estimated $450 million Marcos stashed in the Swiss banks.
But lawyers for banks Credit Suisse and Swiss Bancorp have tried to block the collection, saying that the Philippine government has frozen the Swiss funds, and that Swiss courts have upheld the freeze.
“We are caught in the middle because there are conflicting court orders,” said Paul Bschorr, an attorney for the banks. He also argued that procedural errors invalidated the claim.
In a caustic attack of both positions, Real said the attorneys were only trying to delay.
“You talk about the orders of the Swiss court,” he said. “What about the orders of this court? Swiss law does not determine the ownership of these funds. I determine the ownership of these funds.”
Robert Swift, an attorney for the victims, said, “After 10 years of litigation … we have not collected any money in this proceeding - and we know there are assets in Switzerland.”