Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Ceza asks NBI to probe Freedom Traders Club

THE Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza) has asked the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to probe the Freedom Traders Club (FTC) which offers virtual currency Ploutos Coins even as it said that it has not issued a license to its founder Mark Freeman.

In its press statement dated August 15, and which was posted on Ceza website, the Ceza said it has not issued any license to FTC, Ploutos Innovation Corporation, Ploutos Innovation Limited, Mark Freeman, or any of his associates or entities engaged in the marketing, selling, or operation of “Ploutos Coins.”

Ceza sounded alarm bells over reports that Freeman and his associates have been circulating photos of Freeman with Ceza Administrator Secretary Raul Lambino which implies that he has “met” with Ceza officials and that he has a “work out” with Ceza.

This prompted Ceza to request the NBI to investigate entities linked to Ploutos Coins including Freeman's unauthorized use of Ceza's name and photograph of Ceza officials, including that of Lambino, that suggest that he or his company were issued Ceza Offshore Virtual Currency Exchange (OVCE) license.

The Ceza is a government owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) that issues OVCE license.

The Ceza has found that Ploutos Innovation Limited, a limited company registered in Hongkong, with a certain shareholder named “Mark Steven Freeman”, began to apply for a regular OVCE license on August 9.

“As part of its due diligence, Ceza is conducting its requisite probity check on Ploutos HK, its shareholders, and its activities related to Ploutos Coin being marketed and sold in the Philippines,” the GOCC said.

However, Ceza said it is also ready to reject any application found to be engaged in fraudulent or illegal transactions.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy against any person or company that will use a Ceza license or the name of Ceza to defraud the public,” Lambino said.

“We are ready to immediately cancel the corresponding licenses or initiate the necessary legal actions with the appropriate government agencies, including the NBI, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), should we discover unscrupulous individuals or companies doing this,” he added.

The Ceza said “there is no Filipino company, Filipino, or Philippine resident allowed to apply for a Ceza OVCE license, and if so licensed, such licensee is not allowed to sell securities to Filipinos or to exchange tokens into fiat currency, unless they are registered with the SEC or BSP, respectively.”

SEC-Northern Mindanao director Renato Egypto has maintained that it has not issued any license to Freeman.

He said the SEC advisory cautioning the public on the FTC, Ploutos Coins activities still stands unless Freeman secures all the necessary permits from government regulators.

“Since the SEC considers virtual currencies as also securities, both the BSP and SEC licenses had to be secured first,” Egypto said.


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