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The BBC's Damian Grammaticas
"Moves are being made to freeze bank accounts held by Mr. Estrada"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 23 January, 2001, 09:51 GMT
Estrada banned from leaving Philippines
Mr Estrada
Mr Estrada faces charge which can carry death penalty
The Philippines Government has barred ex-president Joseph Estrada from leaving the country and ordered his bank accounts to be frozen.

The moves come as prosecutors investigate the disgraced ex-leader on charges he stole millions of dollars from the state.

Justice Secretary Hernando Perez said the travel ban also applied to Mr Esatrada's wife, Luisa Ejercito, his son Jinggoy and several friends and aides.

News that Mr Estrada's accounts had been frozen came as newspaper reports said he was attempting to withdraw millions of dollars from a Citibank branch near his Manila home.

Mass protest
Mass protests helped topple Mr Estrada
The Bureau of Internal Revenue has told Citibank not to allow any withdrawals from any account held by Mr Estrada or his wife or any accounts in the names of Jose Velarde or Kevin Garcia.

Political opponents have said the latter two names were used for secret Estrada accounts to hide millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains.

Death penalty

Mr Estrada was forced out of office on Saturday amid a popular uprising, backed by the military, following the dramatic collapse of his impeachment trial on charges of bribery and corruption.

Arroyo
Gloria Arroyo: Appeal for national unity
His former deputy, Gloria Arroyo has been sworn in as the new president.

State prosecutors have now launched an investigation into Mr Estrada on charges including economic plunder, which can carry the death sentence.

He is also under investigation for alleged misuse of funds, anti-graft law violations, perjury, bribery, and possession of unexplained wealth.

Banks

Mr Estrada was impeached following allegations he had received more than $10m in bribes from illegal gambling rings and skimmed off tobacco taxes.

But political opponents have since said he used secret accounts in other names to hide as much as US$67m.

Dozens of protesters surrounded the Citibank branch near Mr Estrada's home on Tuesday to prevent him from withdrawing money.

They blocked the doors while singing 'Erap is a thief' to the tune of a Filipino folk song. Erap is Mr Estrada's nickname.

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