Aman exec shows up at probe, denies part in scamBy Jerome Aning
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The president of the failed Aman Futures Group surfaced Thursday at the Department of Justice (DOJ) to belie accusations he was involved in the P12-billion Ponzi scheme that victimized some 15,000 people in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Fernando Luna claimed he was really only the “personal driver” of the investment group’s Malaysia-based founder, Manuel Amalilio, and was listed as president without his knowledge.
Accompanied by his wife, Nimfa, and lawyer Teresendo Poloyapoy, Luna brought boxes containing bank statements, lists of investors and other documents that he said would prove that the cash collected from the investors went straight to the bank account of Amalilio.
‘Please help me’
A teary-eyed Luna faced the media and addressed Amalilio: “Boss I am here in the DOJ, please help me.”
Luna and his wife, who is listed as a board director of Aman, face complaints of syndicated estafa.
They were not arrested. National Bureau of Investigation director Virgilio Mendez told the Inquirer an arrest warrant against the couple had not yet been issued because the DOJ had yet to wrap up its preliminary investigation of the alleged scam.
Luna told reporters his brother Robert had introduced him to Amalilio, who was in need of a personal driver. He claimed he was surprised one day when Amalilio sent him boxes of documents to sign. Luna said he found out later that he was appointed by Amalilio as president of at least three Aman companies.
“I was asked to sign the papers that were sent from Cebu. I did not know what those were. I just learned later that they made me president of Aman,” he said.
Luna said he and his wife wanted to appear in the DOJ probe much earlier but could not do so because of threats against them from angry investors. This was the reason they had been in hiding for more than three months, he added.
According to Luna, when news about the collapse of the investment scheme broke out, a group claiming to be operatives of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines barged into their house in Pagadian City to supposedly rescue them from would-be abductors.
“There was reportedly an intelligence report that the kidnappers were already inside our house and ready to abduct my children,” he was told.
Luna related how they were brought to Dapitan City and held in a safe house for three days before being allowed to leave.
‘We have nothing left’
Luna also recounted that unidentified people, probably Aman investors, destroyed and burned houses owned by his family and relatives. He said his father’s house was burned while the houses of his siblings were ransacked and looted.
“We have nowhere to go,” he lamented.
He claimed they were also victims of the Ponzi scheme and lost a lot of money.
“What people don’t know is that we were left penniless and did not gain anything from Aman. Even our relatives got nothing. I did not expect this to happen. I told my relatives to get back their investments and dividends this December so that everybody would be happy during the holidays. [After the collapse of the scheme], we gave all we had to the investors. We have nothing left,” he said.
Poloyapoy told reporters there was sufficient evidence to prove that the Lunas were innocent of the crime.
“The truth of the matter is that Luna is a victim of Amalilio. My client was appointed as president without his knowledge,” the lawyer reiterated.—With a report from Nancy C. Carvajal