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Mindanao lawmaker calls for probe into pyramid scams


08:55 PM November 18th, 2012

By: Nancy C. Carvajal, November 18th, 2012 08:55 PM

MANILA, Philippines — A Mindanao congressman is set to file a resolution in the House of Representatives to investigate the multi-billion-peso scam that had rocked the region.

Lanao del Norte Rep. Vicente Belmonte Jr., chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, said he would call for the inquiry and would extend an invitation to all those who were involved in the scam perpetrated by Aman Futures Inc. and the Jachob “Coco” Rasuman group.

“I will file a resolution to conduct a house investigation on the scam in aid of legislation and will invite those who were involved and I will invite you,” Belmonte said in a telephone interview.

Belmonte called up this reporter on Sunday, to deny reports of his involvement with Rasuman who, according to the National Bureau of Investigation, pulled off an even bigger fraudulent money-making scheme than that of Aman Futures headed by a Malaysian, Manuel Amalilio.

“I am never a protector and an investor of Rasuman,’’ Belmonte said.

Belmonte was reacting to a Philippine Daily Inquirer story which cited an NBI intelligence report that linked him to Rasuman.

Mayor Lawrence Cruz of Iligan City also called up to deny reports of his involvement in the Rasuman group.  “I have not invested a single centavo in the two scam companies and was never their protector,’’ Cruz said in the telephone interview.

However, Belmonte and Cruz confirmed in separate interviews with the Inquirer a part of the NBI report that stated Rasuman held office and conducted his transactions in Iligan city.

The two said in separate interviews that Rasuman’s investors were the region’s wealthy and influential who conducted their bank transactions in the city.’

Belmonte further said he did not know Rasuman personally, and met him only once when Rasuman visited him at his house in April 2012.

He described Rasuman as young and around “27-years old.’’

Belmonte explained that Rasuman went to see him and asked for security from local law enforcement agencies as news of problems in his investment operations — some having branded the operations as a scam — went around the city.

“I was the one who alerted the authorities about him and when he apparently found out what I did, he came to my house like anyone would come to my house because it’s also my office,” Belmonte said.

“He assured me that he had stopped his double-your-money venture,’’ Belmonte shared.

Belmonte further added that the reason there were fewer victims in Iligan lured by the Rasuman and Aman Futures because “people in this city are educated.’’

Cruz, on the hand, explained it was impossible for him to be involved in the scam as he was even the first to create a task force to tell the public not to invest in the two groups, the Aman Futures and the Rasuman group.  “I created a task force and done radio broadcasts to warn the public not to invest in these companies,’’ Cruz said.

Cruz said he formed the task force after he learned in a trip to Cagayan de Oro that a group of scam victims and their relatives had blocked the gate of a subdivision in the city to force Rasuman to face them.

“I presided over a task force meeting to ensure that peace and order in the city prevails in the aftermath of the scam,” Cruz said.

NBI said Rasuman scammed more than the P12 billion that Aman Futures took in its own pyramid scam, but Rasuman’s victims numbered less.

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