Ballsy denies links to $30-M MRT extortion try

30 July 2013
File photo: Jejomar Binay and Ballsy Aquino
Balsy Aquino and Vice President Jejomar Binay attends the wreath laying in commemoration of 27th death anniversary of Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. at Cory and Ninoy Aquino monument in Manila, Philippines, 21 August 2010. (Jerome Ascano/NPPA Images)

Manila, Philippines --- She knew that nasty attacks against her family come with the territory but this time, the eldest sister of President Benigno S. Aquino III, apparently, has had enough.

Ballsy Aquino Cruz has finally broken her silence in an effort to clear their names after she and her husband, Eldon, were implicated in an alleged extortion involving the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3 project.

Cruz, speaking on GMA Channel 7, insisted she and her husband are not involved in any anomalous government deal and challenged their accuser to come out and show proof.

I hope those who accused us will come out, said Cruz, sounding exasperated by the baseless attack against them.

I've read the newspapers about this and I really want to know who started all this, she added.

The Cruz couple has been accused of allegedly trying to extort $30 million from a Czech firm Inekon Group that specializes, among others, on the production and sale of rail-borne vehicles and railway tracks, in exchange for a contract to supply new coaches for the MRT 3 project.

This came about supposedly when they visited Prague in 2011 upon the invitation of Czech Ambassador to Manila Josef Rytchar to meet with the Inekon officials.

Cruz affirmed the 2011 European trip but denied, altogether, meeting any government official or businessman related to the MRT project during their two-day stay in Prague.

After accompanying her husband in a business trip in Paris, France, Cruz said she and her husband traveled to Prague as tourists in 2011 and visited the sites, including the Santo Niño de Praga.

Given her association with the President, Cruz admitted she has anticipated efforts to drag her in controversies.

My friends say that's really part of your life. I told them, I know that, Cruz, speaking in Filipino, said.

For his part, the Czech envoy, later came out and claimed some transport officials, not the Cruz couple, were actually involved in the extortion attempt.

President Aquino recently ordered the National Bureau of Investigation to probe allegations some transport officials tried to extort money from Inekon Group in exchange of the supply contract.