MANILA - The son of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos said yesterday his family was willing to give up part of its fabled fortune in exchange for immunity from criminal prosecution.

"That is the whole point... clean the slate," Mr Ferdinand Marcos Jr told reporters after testifying before a Senate committee inquiring into allegations that the former president had stashed hundreds of tons of gold in Switzerland.

Seventeen members of the 24-member Senate earlier signed a resolution urging the government to strike a deal with the Marcos family over his assets in order to end tedious court litigation.

The government has accused Mr Marcos, who was ousted in a popular revolt in 1986 and died in exile in Hawaii three years later, of looting billions of dollars from the economy during his 20-year rule.

His widow, Imelda, and her children are facing a welter of lawsuits before Manila courts for various alleged offences. Manila courts have sentenced Mrs Marcos to 18 years in jail for corruption and her son to a nine-year imprisonment for tax evasion. Both cases are on appeal and the pair are free on bail.

Mrs Marcos, a member of the House of Representatives, still faces about 100 other lawsuits for allegedly helping her late husband to plunder the economy.

In an 11-year global search for the alleged Marcos loot, Manila has found only US$356 million of deposits in Swiss banks which officials say are now worth US$500 million, including interest.

The government and the Marcos family had previously agreed in principle to the proposal but the talks collapsed after the family refused to reveal their assets in full.

Senator Franklin Drilon, chairman of the inquiry panel, showed Mr Marcos' son a list of more than 60 alleged bank accounts in Switzerland, Hong Kong and New York and asked him if he could identify them.

Mr Ferdinand Marcos Jr said he would study the list.

"I am confident there is nothing beyond the US$356 million," he said.
Marcos' son willing to trade assets for immunity
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