Bank owner, 6 others charged with estafa

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Friday, May 2, 2014


CHARGES have been filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Davao City against the owner and six other officials of a banking firm and its associate company found to have been operating without the necessary permit from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

The accused, who have been charged before RTC-Branch 17, allegedly duped more than 1,000 clients in 2013.

Facing multiple charges of syndicated estafa, estafa, and violation of the Republic Act (RA) 8791 or the General Banking Law of 2000 in relation to RA 7653 or the New Central Bank Act are Melton Maamo, Ruben Cabudlan Sr., Emedio Mante, Cristeta Magalona, Christopher Jones Magalona, Nilda Duray and Jorge Estelloso.

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Maamo is the proprietor of Mindanao Wide Integrated Service (Minwis) Forex, a "thrift bank", and Minwis Documentation Services, while the other accused are officers of Minwis.

Assistant State Prosecutor Vilma Lopez-Sarmiento found probable cause to charge the respondents based on the findings of BSP's Office of Special Investigation (BSP-OSI) and the National Bureau of Investigation Anti-Fraud and Action Division (NBI-Afad).

The investigators were compelled to conduct an investigation after one Marciano D. Luma, chair of the board of directors of the Panabo DBCP claims Beneficiaries Association Inc., requested the verification of the legality of the establishments after they have not received any cash claim from an American bank when they fell victim to the dibromochloropropane (DBC) chemical used in banana plantations.

Maamo allegedly established the Minwis Documentation Services on April 8, 2010 and were able to initially amass a total of 1,065 DBCP claimants while the Minwis Forex started operating more than a week after.
The owner told the claimants that they will be facilitating the collection of claims for the DBCP victims but they will be needing a bank where an American bank can deposit the claims, thus, he established the two companies.

It was revealed that although the establishments were registered at the Security and Exchange Commission and the Department of Trade and Industry, they were not authorized by the BSP to operate as a bank or a quasi-bank.

The investigators found that the respondents have collected a total of P26 million with P13 million as capital for the bank, P2.769 million from the special power of attorney collections from the claimants, P3,338,775 for the SPA for the Louisiana Court, P4,792,500 from the initial deposits of the 1,065 claimants plus P2,151,000 from the 478 new claimants.

RTC Branch 17 Judge Evalyn Arellano-Morales have already ordered the arrest of the respondents.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 02, 2014.

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