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Hunt on in Sabah for brains behind pyramid scam in Mindanao


05:22 PM November 16th, 2012

By: Nikko Dizon, November 16th, 2012 05:22 PM

MANUEL AMALILIO: Suspected mastermind disappears. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—The search is on for Manuel Amalilio in Sabah, with the Philippine Embassy here coordinating with Malaysian authorities in locating the brains behind a multi-billion-peso pyramid scam that duped thousands of investors in Mindanao and the Visayas.

The Philippine Embassy said that a warrant issued by a court for the arrest of Amalilio would help hasten his apprehension should it be established that he has taken refuge in Malaysia.

“Pursuant to Malacañang’s directive, we will work with Malaysian authorities to bring him back soonest to the Philippines, to the fullest extent allowable under international cooperation mechanisms,” Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia  J. Eduardo Malaya  told the Inquirer.

Amalilio, founder of the Aman Futures Group Phils. Inc., has been in hiding since his investment business, which he operated in the Visayas and Mindanao, unraveled, leaving his clients holding empty bags.

A number of them had invested their life’s savings in Aman Futures, while others pooled money with relatives, friends, and coworkers to raise millions of pesos to invest in what turned out to be a fraudulent Ponzi or pyramiding scheme.

Senior Supt. Charlo Collado, the embassy’s police attache, said that Malaysian immigration authorities have already been alerted to the reported presence of Amalilio in Sabah.

“An early issuance of a warrant of arrest in the Philippines would expedite the return of the suspect to answer the charges against him,” Collado said.

Malaya, the former chief of the legal office of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said that the warrant of arrest “provides the legal basis for action to be undertaken by a foreign government where the assistance is being sought and the turning over of the suspect to Philippine authorities.”

The government has said that it would invoke the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, a mechanism among member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations  that the Philippines could utilize in the hunt for Amalilio.

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