Pagadian mayor files case vs Aman Futures

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012


MANILA (Updated) -- The mayor of Pagadian City, a relatively rural community, and his immediate family had invested over P41-million, including rollover interests, in the trading firm Aman Futures Group Philippines Inc., for which he now claims he was not a part of.

Mayor Samuel Co, in his complaint affidavit submitted before a special panel of prosecutors formed by the Department of Justice, alleged that he, too, had an account to settle with the incorporators of Aman, led by its owner, Manuel Amalilio, who is now at large and believed to have already escaped to Kota Kinabalu using a Malaysian passport.

Co and his wife, Priscilla Ann, have earlier been tagged as respondents in at least two complaints for syndicated estafa against filed Aman and its officials at the DOJ.

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The DOJ was in Pagadian City Monday to conduct preliminary investigation and to receive more affidavits and counter-affidavits in connection with the supposed P12-billion investment scam perpetrated by Aman officials led by Amalilio. The DOJ had projected that some 8,000 of about 15,000 investors had been gypped in Pagadian City alone.

Co through his lawyer Trixie Cruz-Angeles said that respondent executives of Aman had committed, through their counsels, to submit their counter affidavits on December 27.

Angeles said that the charges filed by the National Bureau of Investigation against Co are merely political attacks against him by rival Zamboanga del Sur Governor Antonio Cerilles, who was supposedly planning to run for his office in the 2013 elections.

In his complaint-affidavit, Co named respondents Amalilio; his wife Abigil Pendulas; Fernando Luna; Lelian Lim-Gan; Eduard Lim; Wilanie Fuentes; Naezelle Rodriguez; Lurix Lopez; and Isagani Laluna.

Co told the DOJ that sometime between March and April 2012, he received information about Aman's operation in Barangay Kawit, which he ordered investigated because it operated by soliciting cash investments from the general public with a promise of swift returns with high interest rates for certain number of days.

In June 2012, he sent an inspection team to Aman, which then operated under a local business permit in the name Fretz and Sha Trading, supposedly engaged in general merchandise. Since Aman engages in the futures business, the inspection team recommended the cancellation of its business permit issued on April 23, 2012.

The business permit was subsequently cancelled effective June 18, 2012. Despite the cancellation, however, the company still continued its operations because of the overwhelming public patronage, prompting him to invite one of Aman's chief operators, Fernando Luna, for a conference.

During said conference, Co claimed to have given Luna an ultimatum to legalize Aman's operations by submitting the necessary documents to the Permits and Licensing Division.

Since he said he cannot stop the operations of a private company, Co said he referred the matter to the City Council to conduct a legislative inquiry. The legislative inquiry however proved futile, he said, because no one had come forward to complain against Aman.

Luna thereafter submitted the necessary documents and permits to acquire a local business permit from the city hall, except for a secondary permit from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

To protect the investing public of their considerable investments, during the interim of the submission of the secondary permit from the SEC, Co said the Permit and the Licensing Division recommended the issuance of a temporary permit valid for 60 days, subject to compliance with other regulatory requirements.

After submitting the requirements, Co was later enticed to join the investment scheme. His first investment was made on September 10 in the amount of P300,000. Eventually, other members of his immediate family as well many more friends rode in his account until it reached the P41,613,790 benchmark, including computed interests.

Co said he was issued two checks at the Philippine Bank of Communications in the amount of P5-million each, but when he tried to withdraw it, he was told that there was insufficient fund for said accounts.

He then made several attempts to contact Luna and Amalilio, whom he had met previously, to no avail. Subsequently, he received a copy of the cease and desist order from the SEC in October enjoining Aman from proceeding with its operations.

Since then, he said that he has yet to receive a cent from Aman out of their P41-million investment. (JCV/Sunnex)

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