Syndicated estafa filed vs Aman execs

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Thursday, January 10, 2013


CAGAYAN DE ORO -- State prosecutors filed Thursday two counts of syndicated estafa against people behind Aman Futures Group Philippines Inc. in connection with the P12-billion investment scam.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) said the charges were filed Thursday morning before the regional trial court in Pagadian, Zamboanga del Sur, where the trading firm’s victims are concentrated.

In the afternoon, the twin cases were raffled to Judge Dennis Bicoy of the Pagadian RTC Branch 20, said Prosecutor General Claro Arellano.

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In a press briefing, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said she has instructed the special panel of prosecutors to immediately file a motion asking the court to issue a warrant of arrest against the respondents, especially Aman founder Manuel Amalilio.

De Lima said two more cases against Aman and another case involving the Rasuman group, another investment scam group, are also up for resolution within January.

In the resolution on the first complaint, the DOJ special panel of prosecutors led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Edna Valenzuela found probable cause to indict Amalilio, and Aman’s incorporators, namely, Fernando Luna, Nimfa Luna, Lelian Lim Gan, Eduardo Lim, Wilanie Fuentes, Naezelle Rodriguez and Lurix Lopez, for syndicated estafa and for allegedly defrauding five investor-complainants the total amount of P46,665,069.56.

Surprisingly, the DOJ dismissed the charges against Aman’s legal counsel and corporate secretary, Isagani Laluna for lack of evidence.

In the second complaint, the DOJ also found probable cause to indict the same respondents for gypping investors of the sum of P43,241,267.22, including interests.

The DOJ, in addition to the previously named respondents, likewise included Dhurwen Wenceslao and Dona Coyme in the list.

Prosecutors also recommended that further investigation and filing of appropriate action be conducted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against respondents Amalilio, Fernando Luna, Gan, Lim, Fuentes, Rodriguez and Lopez.

“A finding of probable cause does not require an inquiry as to whether there is sufficient evidence to secure a conviction. It is enough that the act or omission complained of constitutes the offense charged. It is merely based on opinion and reasonable belief. A trial is intended precisely for the reception of prosecution evidence in support of the charge,” the panel stated.

De Lima said the DOJ panel established probable cause against the respondents through the paper trail and documentary evidence, which point to their direct and actual participation in the Ponzi-like investment scheme, which victimized about 15,000 depositors in the Visayas and Mindanao areas.

The complaint against respondent agents of the firm, however, was dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.

The agents were Reggie Luna, Vanessa Gilbolingo, Araceli Pasco-Julian, Jiesvey Caballero, Alfreda Marilous Caballero, Rogelio Caballero, Marichu Caballero, Roderick Luna, Edwin Caballero, Liezel Paner, Connie Flor Paner, Edward Amaro, Marion Paul Paner, Elen Tan, Judy Amaro, Mike Heres, Alfredo Aspera Jr., Grace Empalmado, Ariel Empalmado, Toto Roda, Noel Luna, Liezel Pabe, Marcelo Andale, Martin Eric Louis Lasaca, Connie Pabe, Shiela Luna Lasaca, PO2 Ariel Real, Ernesto Luna Sr., Noel Luna and PO3 Rey Chang.

De Lima said Pagadian Mayor Samuel Co, who was named respondent in the two other cases still pending at the DOJ, has not been included in the charges even though it was noted in the complaint that he had caused the issuance of a business permit to Aman.

Co, distancing himself as an associate of Aman incorporators, also filed a separate complaints against the Aman group and its officers, saying he and his family had been gypped of over P41-million investment, including rollover interests.

“There is a separate complaint against Mayor Co, and that is not yet ready for resolution. So hindi totoo yung lumabas sa dyaryo na finorward na ng special panel sa Ombudsman yung case vs. Mayor Co. Nasa panel pa din ang kaso, there has to be a resolution first. But Co is not named respondent in this case, although these cases may be related,” she said. (JCV/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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