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Palace: Authorities working to jail Aman Futures scammers

MALACAÑANG on Sunday appealed to victims of Aman Futures not to take matters into their own hands, as authorities are doing their best to put behind bars those responsible for the pyramid scam that duped thousands in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Deputy Palace Spokesman Abigail Valte made the appeal following reports that angry investors had ransacked the Aman Futures office in Pagadian City.

Investors have reportedly lost P12 billion in the scam.

“We reiterate our appeal to the investors not to take the law into their own hands. The authorities are moving quickly on this. Everyone is doing all they can to give justice to the investors, according also to the instructions of the President,” Valte said.

She said the government is ready to provide protection and security to Aman Futures employees who have surfaced, fearing for their safety.

“They are being given due security if necessary,” Valte said.

She said the government’s directive to authorities is to “proceed as quickly as possible.”

“The law enforcement agencies are coordinating even with officials in Malaysia where the president of Aman Futures is said to have gone. There are reports he is in Kota Kinabalu. We are cooperating with officials there with the help of the Philippine embassy of Malaysia to determine the whereabouts,” Valte said.

Meanwhile, Sen. Edgardo Angara asked Justice Secretary Leila de Lima to take over the investigation of the reported scam.

Angara prodded the Department of Justice to create a special task force composed not just of special prosecutors and investigators, but also financial experts from the Department of Finance and the Bangko Sentral Pilipinas “because this is more than police work; this requires financial expertise.”

This, even as Angara on Sunday sought an end to “publicity stunts” by police probers handling the case, noting they were telegraphing their moves through media in announcing, for instance, plans to secure court warrants, tipping off suspects who are believed to have fled the country with their loot to avoid arrest.

“Publicity sila ng publicity, wala pa namang resulta. nagtatakbuhan na tuloy mga suspek at naitatakbo na assets,” Angara said adding that someone should be on top of the investigation. “I ask Justice Secretary de Lima to be personally in charge of this, of this scam probe.”

At the same time, the senator suggested that concerned agencies, including the BSP and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) should expand their information campaign to warn the public to be wary of get-rich-quick schemes “para wala nang maloko sa probinsya ang mga ganitong scam.”

Angara said the DOJ task force should also include the DTI’s consumer protection office. “So, ganun; kailangan pag isipan mabuti ito. Napakalaki ng tama nito sa ating financial system. Scams like this, Aman Future really hurt because the sad part of it is that the victims are mostly ordinary teachers, farmers, fishermen, market vendors.”

In pressing for curbs on publicity in the absence of any concrete headway in the investigation of the Aman Futures scam, Angara cited, for instance, probers plan to secure from the court a hold order against the suspects led by Filipino-Malaysian businessman Emmanuel Amalilio, who has gone into hiding since the scam was uncovered.

“Halimbawa, plano nila lagyan ng hold order ang mga suspek, eh huwag na nilang i-announce. Kapag ina-announce kasi, katungkulan ng media na i-publicize. Eh  di pag ganun, talagang aalis mga ’yan,” the Senator said. “Gawin muna ng police agencies at iba pang investigators ang kanilang trabaho at saka na mag press release kapag may resulta na...dapat resulta muna bago publicity.”

The DOJ Sunday said it would continue with the conduct of  a separate preliminary investigation involving the latest pyramiding scams allegedly perpetrated by the groups of Amalilio and Jachob “Coco” Rasuman.

Prosecutor General Claro Arellano said the two complaints against Amalilio’s group and Rasuman’s group would not be consolidated despite alleged links between them.

“We won’t consolidate them. We will treat them separately,” Arellano said.

Rasuman, according to initial reports, was a top agent of Amalilio’s Aman Futures Group Philippines Inc., which allegedly duped P15,000 of their money amounting to at least P12 billion.

The conduct of separate preliminary investigation involving the two groups is expected to expedite the resolution of the scam which adopted the Ponzi scheme in convincing people to invest their money in the double-your-money scheme.

Earlier, President Aquino expressed his desire for the justice department to finish its investigation and file the corresponding criminal charges against those involved in the new pyramiding scams within a week so that arrest warrants can be issued against them by the court.

The DOJ official said the panel already received last Friday afternoon records of five complaints against Rasuman from Cagayan De Oro city fiscal’s office and of the initial sets of complaints against Amalilio.

“The records were transmitted to us just last Friday afternoon. We are still evaluating them,” he said.

Rasuman’s NAD 21 Auto Option of petroleum and car trading firm BRD Group of Companies reportedly duped its victims—mostly businessmen—through the same Ponzi scheme allegedly used by Aman.

The fiscal found that both firms were not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), adding that Nads 21 was registered with the Department of Trade and Industry but under single proprietorship only.

Earlier, the DOJ announced the creation of a 14-man special panel of  prosecutors to handle the preliminary investigation and prosecution of the pyramid scam allegedly perpetrated by Aman Futures Group.

The NBI  confirmed that Amalilio has left the country for Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.

Senior Assistant State Prosecutor (SASP) Edna Valenzuela was designated as chairman of the panel and SASP Merba Waga as vice-chair.

The NBI has already coordinated with Interpol and the Malaysian Embassy in Manila after it was confirmed that Amalilio is now in Malaysia.

Amalilio, a 32-year-old Malaysian, reportedly owned three private planes and two units at Upper Mckinley Hills Garden Villas in Taguig City. He also owns a house in Cebu City and Dapitan City.

The DOJ said Amalilio’s victims were mostly low-income earners who were promised a return of the entire sum of their investment in the form of post-dated checks, plus investment profit ranging from 30 percent to 40 percent in less than a month.

Aman representatives claimed that the profit from the investments would come from a Malaysian brokerage firm, Okachi, supposedly engaged in futures trading of commodities such as oil, manganese, palm oil, and nickel.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has earlier confirmed that Aman had been registered on July 22, 2012 with the following incorporators and board of directors: Manuel Amalilo; Fernando Luna; Lelian Lim Gan; Eduard Lim; William Fuentes; Naezelle Rodriguez; and Lurix Lopez.

However, it issued a cease and desist order against the firm’s operations last Oct. 8.

(With Butch Fernandez and Joel R. San Juan)

 

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