Friday, February 08, 2008

DOJ To Start Own Probe Into NBN Deal

The Senate investigation into the controversial ZTE deal may have a created a lot of noise but the Department of Justice doubts whether after all the sound and fury, it would amount to anything at all.

The justice department is going to conduct its own investigation to determine the criminal liabilities, if any, of the individuals involved in the deal.

"This is a process in the Senate that seems to last forever ... the Senate will not be able to bring out whether somebody should be indicted or not," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez has instructed his staff to get the transcript of the Senate investigation and to secure a copy of the supposed affidavit of former Philforest Corp. President Rodolfo "Jun" Lozada.

The DOJ will invite to its own investigation Lozada as well as former NEDA and now CHED Chairman Romulo Neri.

Also to be invited to the DOJ is former COMELEC Commissioner Benjamin Abalos who, Lozada claimed, was pushing the ZTE deal in exchange for a multi-million dollar kickback from its Chinese investors.

In Lozada's testimony at the Senate today, he said at one point Abalos talked to First Gentleman Mike Arroyo on the phone at the time when Abalos was having difficulty getting the nod of the NEDA for a loan agreement for the NBN project.

But Gonzalez said he was not sure if the First Gentleman needs to be investigated at all.

"(Lozada) also admitted that he does not know who really was the person on the other line," said Gonzalez.

Gonzalez says his department can commence with its investigation in two weeks time.

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