Large-scale estafa, other charges await Kapa officials

DAVAO. Members of Kapa-Community Ministry International Inc. wait for their payouts at a mall in Tagum in this file photo. (SunStar Davao Photo)

ON TOP of the charges being prepared by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), large-scale estafa charges will be filed by the Department of Justice against the founder and other officers of religious group Kapa-Community Ministry International Inc. for perpetrating the biggest investment scam in the country.

Authorities on Tuesday, June 11, also called on members of Kapa to come forward and file separate complaints.

About a third, or 13, of more than 40 Kapa offices in key cities across the country as well as the residence of Kapa founder Pastor Joel Apolinario were simultaneously raided by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Monday, June 10, on the strength of a search warrant issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court.

Bundles of banknotes and various documents were seized from Kapa offices in Cagayan Valley, Quezon City, Taytay Rizal, Cebu City, Tacloban City, Tagum City, Cagayan de Oro City and three areas in General Santos City including the residences of its founder Joel Apolinario.

NBI Deputy Director for regional operations Antonio Pagatpat said they have not determined the total amount of bills found in Kapa offices as they have yet to finish their inventory.

He said these will form part of the evidence against Kapa. Also seized during the raids were some equipment.

Pagatpat said the court will decide where the cash recovered from the Kapa offices will go to.

The NBI is coordinating with the Department of Justice in the filing of charges of large-scale estafa, syndicated estafa and violation of Sections 8 and 26 of the Securities Regulation Code against Kapa officials.

“Maliwanag na na-violate ‘yung Securities Regulation Code and I am pretty sure that complainants will be coming out. Itong klaseng scheme, hindi ito magtatagal. Ang nagbebenefit lang sa ganito, ‘yung mga first investors,” said Pagatpat.

(It's clear that Kapa violated the Securities Regulation Code and I am pretty sure that complainants will be coming out. This kind of scheme will not last. Only the first investors benefit.)

Pagatpat said the raids were initially scheduled for June 20. But they decided to conduct these earlier after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered that Kapa facilities be shut down.

As of Tuesday, however, authorities have yet to find a complainant against Kapa.

“Patuloy pa rin pangangalap ng salaysay at complainants, kulang pa sa complainants. Walang umaamin na naging bahagi o nabiktima siya ng investment scam. Ang panawagan natin makipagtulungan sa otoridad, para tumibay ang kaso laban sa opisyales ng kumpanya,” PNP spokesperson Colonel Bernard Banac said.

(We are still looking for complainants. Nobody has admitted to being a member or victimized by the investment scam. We would like to call on them to cooperate with the authorities to strengthen the case against the religious group's officials.)

In Malacañang, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo urged those who have been defrauded to file a case against Kapa so they could recover their "donations".

"They should (file charges) in order to recover (their investments) and so that they will put behind bars those people who have been swindling them.

Religion as cover

Pagatpat said they did not see any evidence of religious activities in the Kapa facilities.

He said Kapa founders have merely used religion as a cover for their illegal activities.

“Ang donasyon ay wala kang ine-expect na interest, na return. Kapag ikaw nag-donate, bigay mo na lahat yun. Dito, ipinapangako at guaranteed and 30-percent interest a month,” he said.

(You don't expect a return when you make a donation. If you donate, you give everything up. In this case, Kapa promised and guaranteed a 30-percent interest a month.)

Kapa's proposition is to encourage a member or follower to "donate" at least P10,000 up to a high of P2 million in return for "blessings" that come in the form of the 30-percent promised return per month for life.

Pagatpat said they learned that members who are able to recruit new members will immediately receive a reward of 5 percent of a new member's "donation".

SEC chairperson Emilio Aquino on Monday said Kapa is running a scam that is one of the biggest in the country.

Based on Apolinario's claim that Kapa already has almost 5 million members as of June 8, 2019 and assuming each member has made a conservative "donation" of P10,000, Kapa would have collected at least P50 billion.

Aquino warned, however, that such a scheme is unsustainable and Kapa will eventually collapse when it could no longer recruit new members.

He pointed out that Kapa does not have substantial assets to cover the monthly payouts and relies only on the "donations" of new members to finance the payouts of existing members.

Its touted businesses, meanwhile, are mostly startups whose earnings are way below the required amount for payouts.

Assuming that Kapa had collected P50 billion from 5 million members who "donated" P10,000 each, Aquino said Kapa would need P15 billion for the monthly payouts and P180 billion in just one year.

SEC is also preparing charges of violation of the Securities Regulation Code and the Revised Corporation Code of the Philippines against Kapa. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo with Ruth Abbey Gita/SunStar Philippines)


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