Aman Futures execs charged for syndicated estafa
MANILA (1st UPDATE) Two cases for syndicated estafa were filed in Pagadian on Thursday against officials and incorporators of Aman Futures Group Philippines, Inc. led by its founder, Manuel K. Amalilio, for allegedly conspiring to victimize investors through a Ponzi scheme.
Syndicated estafa is a non-bailable offense.
The cases were raffled off to Pagadian Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 20 presided by Judge Dennis Vicoy.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Justice Sec. Leila De Lima bared that the Dept. of Justice's (DOJ) Special Panel of Prosecutors handling several complaints against the firm found probable cause to charge Amalilio, Fernando R. Luna, Nimfa C. Luna, Lelian Lim Gan, Eduard L. Lim, Wilanie L. Fuentes, Naezelle M. Rodriguez, and Lurix Lopez based on the complaint filed by Aman investors Leo Rey Valdez Soria, Quintin Yap Pasanting, Dennis Ramirez Ceno, Rene Ariel C. Real, and Haide T. Sacote.
The complainants claimed damages in the total amount of P46.66 million.
In a 31-page resolution dated Jan. 7 but released to the media only on Thursday, the panel pointed out that all elements of the alleged offense were present in the case. The panel further said respondents "conspired and cooperated with each other in luring the public to invest in Aman Futures, making the public believe that Aman Futures is a legitimate business entity capable of paying them a higher rate of return on their investments."
"[T]he general public, including herein complainants, relied on such false pretenses and fraudulent representations that induced them to part with and deliver their money to Aman Futures," the resolution read.
The DOJ said Aman Futures was organized for purposes of engaging in ordinary trading and did not possess the authority to engage in commodity futures trading, management of funds or investments.
"Thus, in soliciting and receiving funds for commodity futures trading, Aman Futures falsely represented to the public that it possesses the authority and/or qualification to engage in such," the resolution read.
Respondent Atty. Isagani S. Laluna was spared from indictment due to insufficiency of evidence against him.
"[I]t cannot be denied that his only participation in the whole controversy is being a retained counsel and corporate secretary of Aman Futures. Apart from this, no evidence was submitted to show that he has any involvement in [the] operation of Aman Futures," the resolution read.
In the second consolidated complaint by Clyde G. Rondrique, et al., the panel's joint resolution found probable cause to charge the same respondents for syndicated estafa along with other Aman Futures officers namely, Dhurwen Duron Wenceslao (also known as Dharwin D. Wenceslao and Dhurwin D. Wenceslao) and Donna Coyme.
The complainants, who filed 4 separate complaints later consolidated, invested a combined amount of P26.49 million and are claiming damages (principal plus return on investments) amounting to P43.24 million.
"[T]he swindling of the complainants was committed by a syndicate as it was committed by more than five (5) persons... who were all acting under common design to defraud people by inducing people to deposit money in their company with false promises of high returns.
"[T]he funds solicited from the complainants and the general public was misappropriated by the respondents," the resolution, dated Jan. 7, read.
The DOJ said that "false pretense" was already present when Aman Futures started to induce investors in Pagadian City with a double-your-money scheme and making the investors believe it (Aman Futures) possesses the legal capacity to engage in such activity.
"[T]he well-orchestrated and organized plan by which the investment scheme was conducted by the people behind (Aman Futures) signified their (respondents) intention to defraud the public, to the point that even discerning individuals were fooled into investing in their scheme," the resolution read.
The DOJ also recommended the further investigation of Amalilio, et al. by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for violation(s) of the Securities Regulation Code.
The charges against several other respondents -- mostly tellers, comptrollers, security escorts of the Aman Futures officers, encoders, and security guards -- were dropped for insufficiency of evidence and for failure of the complainants "to specify the acts they committed to signify that said respondents (tellers, comptrollers, security escorts, encoders, security guards) were acting with common design" as that of Amalilio and his alleged cohorts.
"The fact that the said respondents worked in the company which defrauded complainants and other people in Pagadian City does not automatically make them conspirators in the crime committed by their employers," the resolution read.