Latest Stories

State regulators under fire for investment scam

Lawmakers castigate SEC, AMLC, NBI for ‘sleeping on the job’


SEC chairperson Teresita Herbosa said the SEC had issued an advisory warning prospective investors against Aman Futures. But she explained that the firm also had to be given “the opportunity to be heard.” Photo from http://www.sec.gov.ph

State regulators and law enforcers on Tuesday found themselves in the hot seat at the House of Representatives investigation into the P12-billion investment scam that victimized an estimated 15,000 people in Mindanao and the Visayas.

House legislators castigated the Anti-Money Laudering Council, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the National Bureau of Investigation for what they said was their “reactive” attitude to the case.

“Medyo natutulog sa pansitan ang SEC dito (The SEC seems to have been caught napping here,” an angry  Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said during the hearing of the committee on banks and financial intermediaries.

AMLC executive director Vicente Aquino announced at the hearing that some P200 million worth of assets of the Aman Futures Group Phil., the alleged perpetrator of the pyramid scam, had been frozen by the Court of Appeals as of Monday.

But the House investigators would not be appeased.

Rodriguez said the SEC should have closed down the Pagadian City office of Aman Futures earlier to prevent more investors from being duped. He noted that the firm began operating in January this year, but the SEC acted on a case only last August.

SEC chairperson Teresita Herbosa said the SEC had issued an advisory warning prospective investors against Aman Futures. But she explained that the firm also had to be given “the opportunity to be heard.”

“We did our job,” she said, noting also that the SEC did not acquire jurisdiction over Aman Futures until the firm was registered last June.

NBI Director Nonnatus Caesar Rojas explained that when the agency began investigating the complaints of a possible investment scam, he said agents were met by reluctant and uncooperative victims.


The as-yet-unsuspecting victims looked on the NBI as a “spoilsport” because they were “sort of happy with what was going on,” he said.

“But we already felt that there was some problem and that this was some sort of a business scam,” he said.

Some of the victims were talking of staging a protest rally against the NBI for “disturbing the party, so to speak,” Rojas said.

He said that even when Fernando Luna, who managed the Aman Futures scam, disappeared on Sept. 26, “the people were still not alarmed because the first complaint we received was only on Oct. 15.”

“The people were waiting. They didn’t want the NBI to come in just yet because they were hoping that their investments would be paid, that it would turn out well for everyone,” he said.

“When the cases started coming, that’s when the people probably realized the game was over, the party was over,” said Rojas.

NBI deputy director Virgilio Mendez said the victims may have been reluctant to cooperate with the NBI because they were warned by the scam operators that if they told or brought this information to the attention of authorities, “their investments would be affected and they would not be allowed to join the party.”

Aquino said the AMLC had a similar problem with reluctant complainants.

“We conducted a discreet investigation when we noticed certain red flags in the transactions of these people and like the NBI, we exerted our utmost to convince alleged victims to at least execute an affidavit, to probe the existence of probable cause, that damage was sustained, and that there was deception,” he said.

Nobody came out, however, and under the Anti-Money Laundering Act, the AMLC cannot freeze assets on the basis of a red flag or a mere suspicious transaction, Aquino said.

Pagadian Mayor Samuel Co, who with his wife and 10 others is facing syndicated estafa charges before the Department of Justice, was a no-show at the congressional hearing.

Mendez said that testimonies and documents have “established that (Co) had a direct hand in the operation of this business.”

Zamboanga del Sur Gov. Antonio Cerilles showed up at the hearing and implicated Co. He submitted documents purportedly showing that the mayor had issued three business permits to Aman Futures.

One such permit was issued on July 27, or more than a month after the NBI began investigating the investment scam.

The NBI office in Pagadian has so far received 11,299 complaints against Aman Futures, with combined losses estimated at around P10 billion.

Case vs mayor

A third syndicated estafa complaint was filed against Co last Monday. Included in the latest complaint filed by the NBI was the Pagadian city treasurer and a policeman who served as a bodyguard for Luna.

The first two complaints were filed last Nov. 26 and Nov. 29.

Meanwhile, the special panel tasked to prosecute the syndicated estafa cases against the Aman executives postponed its scheduled hearing today in Pagadian City because of bad weather, according to Prosecutor General Claro Arellano.

Arellano said the special panel will proceed with its Dec. 7 hearing in Cagayan de Oro City on another investment scam by the Rasuman group. With a report from Christine Avedaño

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Aman Futures , AMLC , Government , investment scam , Judiciary , NBI , SEC

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  2. Save the queen? Aide takes fall for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  3. Palace prepared to charge its allies
  4. Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  5. Napoles turnaround alarms whistle-blowers
  6. What Went Before: Malacañang allies alleged involvement in pork scam
  7. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  8. Timeline: Napoles tell-all
  9. HK apology: Why Estrada and not Aquino?
  10. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  1. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  2. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  3. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  4. Estrada: Gigi Reyes won’t testify vs JPE
  5. Bernice Lee arrested by NBI team
  6. Enrile chief aide back in PH ‘to face charges’
  7. Cedric Lee’s cohort flies out of PH despite look-out order – De Lima
  8. Suspect in Vhong Navarro’s mauling wants to turn state witness – De Lima
  9. Reckless driver endangered lives of Aquino, entourage–report
  10. Lawyer: Napoles ‘will tell all’
  1. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  2. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  3. Napoles spills beans on Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – De Lima
  4. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  5. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  6. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  7. 12 senators on Napoles ‘pork’ list, says Lacson
  8. Gigi Reyes pins blame on aide
  9. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct
  10. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano


  • Smooth Edsa ride up in 2 years, but…
  • Obama: US will defend Japan vs China
  • Santiago accuses Lacson of fronting for Enrile, Gigi Reyes
  • Name names, Lacson told
  • Ukraine FM: We are ready to fight Russia
  • Sports

  • Sharapova advances to Stuttgart quarterfinals
  • Galedo caps ride of redemption
  • Beermen, Express dispute second semis slot today
  • Lady Agilas upset Lady Bulldogs in four sets
  • NLEX roars to 7th D-League win
  • Lifestyle

  • Marinduque: Visiting the ‘palm of the ocean’
  • First at Vatican in 60 years
  • How Jing Monis Salon gave Krissy the pixie
  • Want to be a supermodel? Work on your inner beauty, says Joey Espino
  • Denims that keep you cool–literally
  • Entertainment

  • Kristoffer Martin: from thug to gay teen
  • Has Ai Ai fallen deeply with ‘sireno?’
  • California court won’t review Jackson doctor case
  • Cris Villonco on play adapted from different medium
  • OMB exec’s assurance: We work 24/7
  • Business

  • Nielsen sees car buying boom in the Philippines
  • How author of best-seller exposed ‘one percent’ economic elite
  • Bangko Sentral readies new bank lending rules
  • Gaming stocks gain, PSEi eases on profit-taking
  • Cebu Pacific flew 3.74M passengers as of March
  • Technology

  • Vatican announces hashtag for April 27 canonizations
  • Enrile in Masters of the Universe, Lord of the Rings?
  • Top Traits of Digital Marketers
  • No truth to viral no-visa ‘chronicles’
  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Opinion

  • Editorial Cartoon, April 25, 2014
  • No deal, Janet
  • Like making Al Capone a witness vs his gang
  • MERS-CoV and mothers
  • A graduation story
  • Global Nation

  • Senator hopes PH will also get same vow
  • HK victims to get P115M; traders raised money
  • Afghan hospital guard kills 3 American doctors
  • Career diplomat is new PH consul general in Los Angeles
  • US4GG: Aquino should ask Obama for TPS approval, drone technology
  • Marketplace