De Lima says Aman scam biggest in PH

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Department of Justice Sec. Leila de Lima. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—The multibillion-peso pyramid racket in the Visayas and Mindanao could be the biggest scam the country has seen so far, bigger than the bank scam perpetrated by the Legacy Group, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said Thursday.

Concerned about the possibility some of the victims would take the law into their hands, President Aquino wants the creation of a task force that will expedite the investigation and prosecution of the people who had duped some 15,000 people out of P12 billion, De Lima said.

At a news conference, asked whether the pyramid scam perpetrated by Aman Futures was bigger than that of the Legacy Group of the late Celso de los Angeles, De Lima said, “It looks like it.”

After she and Interior Secretary Mar Roxas met with Aquino Wednesday, De Lima said Aquino told them he wanted the issuance by next week of warrants for the arrest of those behind Aman Futures, particularly its CEO, Manuel Amalilio.

De Lima confirmed that Amalilio was now in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, which is currently under the jurisdiction of Malaysia, which has no extradition treaty with the Philippines. But she said the government could still coordinate with Malaysian authorities to arrest the founder of Aman Futures.

“We have the Interpol mechanisms and we have the Asean Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty,” she said, noting that Malaysia is part of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

NBI Director Nonatus Roxas, who attended the news conference, said his office was already coordinating with the Malaysian embassy to ensure it knew where Amalilio was, should the warrant for his arrest be issued. Roxas said the Philippine government would have Amalilio deported.

Even if Amalilio left Malaysia, Roxas said, the NBI “will follow where he is” with the help of counterparts in whichever country he went.

Roxas said the 20 to 30 executives and agents of Aman Futures were still in the country, and “we will take them” when the arrest warrants are issued.

Noting that her department had been stopped by a court ruling from issuing hold-departure orders, De Lima said she could issue only “Lookout Bulletin Orders” for these people, many of whom, she noted, were in hiding.

She said this case showed it was “not right to deprive the DOJ of its HDO and WLO [watchlist order] powers.”

“There are instances that you have to stop a criminal before cases are filed in court. We are powerless now to prevent them because of the TRO,” De Lima said.

Concerned about the magnitude of the problem and the “high emotional state and volatile situation,” the President wants the Department of Interior and Local Government ) and Department of Finance to be involved in going after the operators, De Lima said.

De Lima said the two agencies plus the Department of Justice would be part of the task force  that Aquino wants to be created to help in building a case against the operators of Aman Futures and, thus, bring justice to the victims of the scam.

The DOJ will be responsible for investigation and prosecution through the NBI; the DILG will look into the angle of local officials who may have invested in the pyramiding scam; and the DOF will look into the pyramiding scam itself with the help of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Anti-Money Laundering Council, she said.

“There are investors there who are victims and who would want to take the law in their hands and we want to avoid that,” De Lima said.

Because it would not be advisable for the prosecution of the cases to happen in the provinces given the high emotional state of the victims, De Lima said she has asked Prosecutor General Claro Arellano to transfer the cases to Manila so that they could be handled by the 14-member special panel of prosecutors she has created.

The justice secretary said she told Arellano to submit by Friday the complaints in Pagadian City now under preliminary investigation so that their investigation could continue in the capital and “so we can target their immediate filing of criminal cases in court and the arrest warrants can be issued.”

So far, there are 8,000 complainants, all in Pagadian City, where Aman Futures first operated until it expanded to neighboring provinces.

De Lima said the President wanted a consolidated report on the cases. “This is a very serious undertaking and serious assignment for us directly from the President,” she said.

Meanwhile, De Lima said the DOJ was trying to determine whether another group, reportedly engaged in a pyramid scam in Lanao, was part of Aman Futures.

She noted that the “modus operandi” of the Koko Rasuman group and Aman Futures were related.

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  • K8

    why does the government always need to create a “task force” when some incident comes around? don’t we have agencies ready for this kind of situation?

  • $14170612

    greed of money 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WIWYLFLU4LPKS7B2ZLLRVFKS3Y vir_a

    An rebel leader in Mindanao a decade ago was extradited from Malaysia. So this Mr. Amalilio can also be subjected to the same procedures considering the gravity of his crime.

  • josh_alexei

    but if this company operated as legitimate operation, why not to authorities able to find out the “scams” behind its operation and prosecute the officers before the more than 15000 thousands were victimized? there should be some kind of financial regulators that should have detected these sort of things before it gets out of hand…even the so-called “pay day cash” which charges more than 60% in annual fees in form of fees and other  charges to get around the anti-usury law of 60% of the country where I live can not even escape the eyes of the regulators, why these could happen in the Phil that is soo abviously a scam at the first look? Incompetence maybe on the part of the authorities…

  • Albert Einstien

    EVERYTHING biggest  is HAPPENING  now…

    BIGGEST scam in history —- 12 billion courtesy of malaysian

    BIGGEST corruption in history—-2011 coa audit report …101.8 BILLION lost to CORRUPTION.

    BIGGEST giveaway of territories—milf bangsamoro state( courtesy of malaysia ) & china declared ownership of our islands after pnoy-trillianes compromise .

    BIGGEST INJUSTICE——political vendetta

    BIGGEST NATIONAL DEBT EVER….1 trillion just for 2 year period …
    11/14/2012 malaya business, Philippines:Data from the Bureau of Treasury showed that the government’s outstanding debt as of end-September stood at P5.213 trillion, P342 billion higher than the P4.871 trillion in debt registered during the same time a year ago. ( this is on top of yearly payment of INTEREST & MATURED debts )….NOYNOYING is only good for propaganda…GRABE…compare that to The National Government’s debt of P4.424 trillion in 2010…ONE TRILLION ADDITIONAL NATIONAL DEBTin just two years … WOW umunlad tayo sa kahirapan at nabaon sa UTANG….yun 20 years ni marcos magakno lang utang ng Pilipinas…$26.52 billion or ( 26.52 x 18.68 ) P 495 billion for 20 years na inutang ni marcos..ngayon ke pnoy 1 TRILLION two years pa lang TAPOS mas MAHIHIRAP pa at mas NAGUGUTOM ang mga tao ngayon……….

    BIGGEST SMUGGLNG in history–Smuggling in the Philippines is at its worst under President Aquino’s administration, with the smuggled value averaging $19.6 billion annually, an explosion from the comparable figures of $3.1 billion and $3.8 billion yearly during the terms of Presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ( pdi column)

    BIGGEST hypocrisy…FOI election promise, skyrocketing PRICES of everything, 29% unemployment,HIGH criminality & Investor risk aversion led to an 83-percent DROP in foreign direct investments (FDI) in the Philippines …sabi ng mga noynoying UMUUNLAD tayo….puro bola at propaganda lang…

    BIGGEST unemployment ,:NEWS 11/15/12; Unemployment worsens in 3rd quarter at 29.4%

    si comelec brilliantes lang at mmda ang gumagana sa govt of noynoying…..khit papano..

    • Jay Ann

      BIGGEST currupt husband of the BIGGEST CROOK of them all —- Mike and Gloria Arroyo!

    • Rigoberto_Tigdas

      BIGGEST name fooled by Arroyos —-  Albert Einstien

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RU2ESNRHLDMKCAQHPNEMIR56LM Di Chavez

      BIGGEST gift of Pnoy for Filipino people —- Gloria in VMMC!!! Yeeeyyy!!!!!

    • Rigoberto_Tigdas

      BIGGEST thief ever removed in public office —– Renato Corona

  • simonibarra27

    May maslalaki pa ba sa CBCP scam?

    • Rigoberto_Tigdas

      Meron… Roman Catholicsm Scam. The mother of them all!

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Reynaldo-Quijada/100000740291153 Reynaldo Quijada

        this is religious bigotry at its worst. RH ka ba or a religious fanatic whose members are known to be involved in many irregularities but seemed untouchable????

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4R3GZTGML26TV2VGS6RVHP2THM Fred

    By golly, issuance of warrant arrest by next week said PNoy!
    Why did he not say NOW?

  • disqusted0fu

    biggest scam the country has seen so far, and it happened under De Lima’s watch. on top of that, she wasnt able to do anything about it because the scam artists were able to escape to another country.

    “There are instances that you have to stop a criminal before cases are
    filed in court. We are powerless now to prevent them because of the
    TRO,” De Lima said.
    – how come she obeys TROs now? now that the ones who are escaping are proven and guilty criminals.

    • Your_King

      That’s a good point. The government today probably has selective justice. They follow laws when convenient and break them when convenient. They go after certain people they want and let others go.

  • Your_King

    That’s a lot of freagin money!!!

    Aquino better get his priorities straight and really go after these scammers. De Lima seems to be on top of this so i’m not sure whether to be confident or not.

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