MANILA, Philippines - Pagadian Mayor Samuel Co on Wednesday admitted that he knew from the start that something was wrong with Aman Futures Group but was unable to do anything because so many people were earning money from the company.
Speaking to ANC, Co said the huge returns in Aman - 35% ROI in 10 days - made him question the viability of the business. The group is accused of pocketing P12 billion in investments before the Ponzi scheme folded up.
He also revealed that he started earning from Aman after being enticed by his group to invest his money sometime August.
He said he first invested P500,000 and got P600,000 in just a week. He then invested P1 million and got P1.35 million.
He said the biggest amount he invested was P10 million.
Co declined to say how much he earned from the Ponzi scheme but said he lost P5 million when Aman founder Manuel Amalilio shut down operations and left the country.
"The [P5 million] was gone sometime in October When Manny Amalilio was gone," he said.
The mayor said he had an inkling that the group might be having problems when Aman Pagadian operator Fernando Luna left the company in September.
Co said he cancelled Aman's business permit last June 18 because the permit issued by city hall was only for merchandising and not for an investment firm. He also noted that the Securities and Exchange Commission did not issue a secondary license to Aman for their investment scheme.
"I knew it was wrong right from the beginning," he told Headstart host Karen Davila.
Asked why he didn't shut down the business altogether, he said: "I tried to. I sent the police but you know, the one confronting you is no longer [Fernando] Luna but your constituents because the earnings are too big, so big, big enough that your constituents are fighting against you."
"Imagine if you place your money, it will be more than double in a month's time. So I was really having problems."
Co said Aman applied for a proper business permit on July 3 after the first one was cancelled. He said he did not intend to issue another permit but allowed the issuance of a business tax payment certificate on July 27 to allow the city to collect taxes from the firm.
"We are also being pressured from all walks of life, from all sectors, everybody. From the judiciary to politicians to lawyers to doctors to teachers to military," he said.
The mayor blamed the police for failing to shut down Aman's office since there was no complainant.
He also said the business grew so fast, with thousands lining up to invest in the company.
Co said he invested in the group in August because of pressure from his group to also earn from the scheme.
"They keep on poisoning my mind. 'Mayor, you have to invest.' They are afraid that during the election, I will give them small amount of money to help them," he said.
"I was forced to do it...They are like God during that time," he said.
ANC Headstart, November 28, 2012