A close ally of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III has been implicated in a widening corruption scandal that has already entangled dozens of senior politicians.
Budget and Management Secretary Florencio Abad was one of two serving cabinet ministers named by the alleged mastermind, the latest in a wave of revelations that deepened the scandal surrounding the alleged theft of US$229 million in taxpayer money.
On Monday, Janet Napoles, the alleged brains behind the scam, told congressional investigators she had given money to 120 sitting and former lawmakers, far more than the eight already facing criminal charges, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Abad and other alleged accomplices denied the allegations.
Napoles’ lawyer said she is not maintaining her innocence but insisted the scam had been in place when she came into play, the report said.
The scandal centers on billions of pesos in congressional funds meant for development projects which were channeled into bogus non-government organizations in connivance with politicians.
The latest bombshell came just days after Aquino said in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Manila that the Philippines, once derided as the “sick man of Asia”, has become a model of political and economic reform.
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