Rasuman scam brains fallsBy Christine O. Avendaño |Inquirer Mindanao
The leader of the Rasuman group, which pulled off an investment scam said to be bigger than that of Aman Futures, was arrested in Marawi City on Tuesday.
Jachob “Coco” Rasuman did not resist when National Bureau of Investigation agents arrested him at his home at 2:15 p.m., said Senior Supt. Romeo Magsalos, the provincial police chief.
Magsalos said police and military tanks surrounded Rasuman’s house during the arrest. Rasuman was immediately transported to Cagayan de Oro City.
Jerome Rasuman, who, like Jachob had been charged with syndicated estafa, a nonbailable offense, along with nine others, was expected to “voluntarily surrender” to authorities, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said.
NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas said Jachob Rasuman, who volunteered to be detained in his house under tight security for fear of his life after he failed to pay back his investors, would be brought to Manila and would be temporarily detained at the NBI facility.
Acting Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said the arrest was made even if Rasuman had promised to pay in February next year those who invested in the financial scheme.
“He has to face the law,” Hataman said.
Hataman said the arrest would ease tension in Lanao del Sur province because disgruntled investors would be satisfied with the government’s intervention.
Rojas said Rasuman was arrested based on the warrant, issued by Judge Bonifacio M. Macabaya of Misamis Oriental Regional Trial Court Branch 20.
The NBI chief said Rasuman was apprehended for syndicated estafa based on the complaint of Amerodin Hamdag Jr., of Eisenhower Street in Greenhills, San Juan City.
The NBI earlier said that the Rasuman group victimized fewer investors in its schemes than Aman Futures but got more money before it was shut down in July when it ran out of money to pay its investors.
Virgilio Mendez, NBI deputy director for regional services, said two weeks ago that “our estimate based on the investigation is that the Rasuman group got more money and have fewer victims compared to the Aman Futures.”
He said investors of Rasuman were moneyed people, while those of Aman Futures were mostly ordinary folk.
To drive home the point that the Rasuman group attracted large sums of money, Mendez cited a case in Cagayan de Oro City in which the group received P300 million in investment from 29 investors.
The Rasuman group itself invested its money in Aman Futures and lost everything, said Mendez.
Before it shut down, Aman Futures gypped some 15,000 people, mostly in Mindanao and the Visayas, of some P12 billion, according to the NBI.
The special panel of prosecutors tasked with investigating and prosecuting recent investment scams filed in court on Nov. 22 a syndicated estafa complaint against Jachob, Jerome, their father and former Public Works Undersecretary Bashir Rasuman, Emma Amer Rasuman, Jeremiah Amer Rasuman, Jamirie Amer Rasuman, Jamila Rasuman Tomawis, Jalaima Rasuman Mangarun, Bashir Rasuman Jr., Amer Tomawis and Princess Aliah Tomawis Rasuman.
The 11 were identified as officers/owners/associates of NAD Auto Option Corp. and BDR Group of Companies and were charged on the basis of a complaint filed by 25 people led by their relative Abuamar D. Sambitory, who all accused them of conning them of P120 million.
In a news conference, De Lima announced the arrest order for Jachob and the arrest warrants issued against the 10 others.
She said authorities were still determining the whereabouts of the Rasuman patriarch but they had information that he was just in Manila.
De Lima said Jachob had sought protective custody with the 103rd Army Brigade after he failed to make good his promise to irate investors to give back their investments by Aug. 15.
“It is very important to secure the accused to protect them from angry investors and other elements that may take advantage of the situation,” De Lima said.
In its Nov. 22 resolution, the special panel of prosecutors said the complaint against the respondents were originally filed in the Office of the City Prosecutor of Cagayan de Oro City but was reassigned to them as mandated by its creation.
The resolution said Sambitory complained on behalf of 24 others, who altogether invested P120 million in cash with NAD Auto Option, which the special panel of prosecutors said “in truth and in fact” was “nonexistent.”
They were assured of a return on investment ranging from 85 to 150 percent in 60 days. That meant the P120 million they invested was expected to yield more than P275 million in just two months.
Rasuman and the other respondents were able to pay the promised return of Sambitory’s personal investments fixed at 45 percent for February and April. The huge return prompted Sambitory to entice other relatives and friends to invest with Rasuman.
But in July, the respondents failed to pay the complainants. They also stopped their business operations and could no longer be found.
“By their modus, respondents, who are closely related to each other, showed unity of design and purpose in defrauding the public, including herein complainants,” the resolution of the special panel said.
“Their acts of holding out to the public that NAD Auto Option Corp. and BDR Group of Companies exist, albeit untrue, and successfully inducing them to invest and part with their money cannot be more clear.”
The NBI said the Rasuman group attracted more affluent investors because it was run by a legitimate businessman with ties to Muslim royalty.
Jachob, who founded the Rasuman group in 2010, is a known businessman in Iligan City whose interests included the sole distributorship of Holcim Cement in Mindanao, restaurants, car sales and fuel.
He is married to a Princess Tomawis whose family is also engaged in various businesses in the region, the NBI said.
The Rasuman group operated in the Muslim areas of Tamparan and Marawi City, Lanao del Sur and Iligan City. Its investors were mainly Muslims.
Unlike the victims of Aman who became violent, the Rasuman case was resolved in a peaceful manner through the intervention of religious leaders in the area, Mendez said.
Before the downfall of Jachob, he was considered a hero because he improved the living standards of people who initially profited from his double-your-money scheme, according to Mendez.
Rasuman’s investment scam came to light only three weeks ago when the Aman Futures scam exploded in the media.
Buying, selling cars
Jachob began his investment scheme by getting into buying and selling cars to raise quick cash.
He would would buy a car with a market value of P100,000 at a higher rate of P150,000, but the seller had to wait for two months before the vehicle was paid, according to an NBI report.
Jachob, the report said, would then sell the car at a still lower price for quick cash, which he then used as capital to invest in other ventures.
In 2010, Jachob hired at least 50 agents to look for investors. The agents were promised an 80-percent return on investment. These agents in turn would promise investors a return of 40-70 percent, the NBI report said.
It said local officials were involved in the Rasuman scheme. With reports from Nancy C. Carvajal in Manila; and Richel V. Umel, Inquirer Mindanao