Jul 232013
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recommended fresh syndicated estafa charges against Aman Futures owner Manuel Amalilio and former Pagadian City mayor Samuel Co in connection with a large-scale investment scam that duped 15,000 investors last year.

In a resolution, the DOJ special panel said the three elements of syndicated estafa according to Presidential Decree No. 1689 were all “present” in the case — a) estafa or other forms of swindling under Articles 315 and 316 of the Revised Penal Code is committed; b) estafa or swindling is committed by a syndicate; and c) defraudation results in the misappropriation of moneys contributed by stockholders, members of rural banks, etc.

“Evidence shows that there is sufficient ground to engender a well founded belief that the crime of syndicated estafa has been committed and that respondents… are probably guilty thereof and should be held for trial,” the panel said in a 66-page resolution.

Amalilio is currently serving a two-year jail sentence in Malaysia for possession of fake passports and IDs.

Syndicated estafa is a non-bailable offense in the Philippines.

Aside from Amalilio and Co, also ordered charged were Fernando Luna, Lelian Lim Gan, Eduard Lim, Wilanie Fuentes, Naezelle Rodriguez, Lurix Lopez, Mohammad Hassan Mackno, Dimasara Jova, Ian Madarang, and Priscilla Ann Fernandez Co.

The latest DOJ resolution stemmed from two complaints—one filed by Co and another by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)—and three private complainants, including a certain Fabian Tapayan.

Co’s complaint was dismissed after the panel found him an “active-participant in the fraudulent scheme.” Only the NBI’s complaint was found to have probable cause.

“Respondent Samuel Co cannot claim that he became a victim of the fraud perpetuated through Aman… Given his participation in the operations of Aman as an agent, by collecting/receiving investments from numerous investors, he himself participated in the fraud committed against the complaints,” the DOJ panel said.

Tapayan had separately filed a complaint for violation of Republic Act 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, which the DOJ dismissed “without prejudice” because the jurisdiction belongs to the Office of the Ombudsman.

“The finding of probable cause was further bolstered by the direct involvement of the following respondents in the operation of Aman,” the DOJ said. “It was never disputed that it was respondent Amalilio who organized the operation of Aman in Pagadian City.”

Last March, the DOJ recommended separate syndicated estafa charges against Co and 11 others for their alleged involvement in the Aman Futures scam.

Based on its preliminary investigation, the DOJ special panel junked Co’s defense that he merely helped Aman Futures in distributing checks to investors and was not a member of the doomed investment firm.
Co had earlier claimed that he and his wife were also victims of Aman Futures as they invested P3,266,700 in the firm under the account name Bo’s Coffee with an interest of 58-percent after 17 days. He made another investment under the account name Max’s Chicken with an amount of P3,205,500 with a 60-percent interest after 17 days.
Co had said he tried stopping Aman Futures from operating but failed to get an authority from the Sangguniang Panglungsod of Pagadian City because its members “were themselves politicians… and no one complained against the operation of Aman.”
In June 2012, Co had ordered the cancellation of Aman Futures’ business permit after finding out that it was into futures trading but was registered as a general merchandise business. — KBK, GMA News

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