Ex-Pagadian mayor, wife arrested for estafa

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

MANILA (Updated) -- Former Pagadian City mayor Samuel Co and his wife, Priscilla, were nabbed by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Saturday after eight months of evading charges of syndicated estafa.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Sunday the two were arrested by the Investigation Service (IS) and Special Investigation Services (SIS) operatives in the Serendra condominium in Taguig City. The couple owns a unit in the posh dwelling.

"Acting as buyers to gain access in the Serendra Towers, the NBI joint team closely monitored the couple that led to their arrest. They were caught while on board a vehicle. They're now at the NBI detention facility (in Manila)," she said in a text message.

The two will not be presented to media.

"Media may be allowed though to take snap shots of their being in detention but no deliberate parading of the couple," De Lima said.

Co and his wife allegedly connived with the defunct Aman Futures Group Philippines Inc. in enticing people to join in the double-your-money scheme.

Co, who lost the congressional race in Zamboanga del Norte in May, supposedly backed Aman’s operation even without submitting the documents needed by the local government.

The arrest warrants were issued last April by the Iligan City Regional Trial Court branch 1, which is hearing the complaint of Julius Labunog, who allegedly lost P29.63 million to the investment scam.

Last July, the Department of Justice (DOJ) approved the filing of the second batch of syndicated estafa cases against the couple, stemming from the complaints forwarded by Samsodin Ala, Fabian Tapayan and Norolhaya Taha.

Ala lost P7.39 million to the swindling syndicate, while Tapayan and Taha failed to recover investments worth P1.62 million and P1 million, respectively.

“From the beginning, it was never intended by Aman to operate as a legitimate business and that there was never any intent to comply with the promise of high interest rates. Rather, Aman was organized for a fraudulent purpose and that the purpose of high interest rates was nothing but a mere sham meant only to entice complainants and other investors to part with their money,” the DOJ said.

Aman was operated by businessman Manuel Amalilio, who is currently under Malaysian custody for faking a Philippine passport. [READ: De Lima: Aman Futures head arrested in Malaysia]

The company allegedly victimized some 15,000 individuals in Visayas and Mindanao, whose investments totaled P12 billion. (Sunnex)

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