NBI uncovers P3-B Iloilo finance scam

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ILOILO CITY, Philippines—The National Bureau of Investigation has looked into a financial investment firm that allegedly defrauded hundreds of mainly Chinese-Filipinos in Iloilo of billions of pesos in investments.

The Iloilo-based Evergreen Finance (Iloilo) Inc. was investigated by the NBI Western Visayas Regional Office (Wevro) for allegedly failing to pay interest rates and return of investments.

The NBI Wevro on Monday confirmed that it had conducted an investigation of the investment firm and had submitted its findings to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Wevro officials, including Regional Director Manuel Almendares, however, declined to issue any statement on the results of the investigation saying it was up to the NBI central office and the DOJ to disclose the findings and recommendations.

Almendares also declined requests of the INQUIRER to be interviewed on the case.

Efforts to get in touch with the president of Evergreen, Reynaldo Navarro, were futile.

A source privy to the case said the investigation started last year after the investment firm reneged on its obligation to pay interests to its investors. Investments in the firm have been estimated to reach at least P3 billion, according to the source.

Another source, a member of the Chinese-Filipino community in Iloilo who is close to many of the victims, said the investors were attracted to Evergreen because of the initial high annual interest rates ranging from 9 percent to 15 percent, more than triple the prevailing bank interest rates.

Investors put in from P300,000 to P300 million in personal and family funds, the source told the Inquirer on condition of anonymity.

The source said many of the investors are retirees and small Chinese-Filipino businessmen who put in mostly their family’s assets and inheritance money. Among the first investors were Navarro’s friends, business associates and relatives.

The investors are mainly from Iloilo and neighboring provinces but also included overseas Filipino workers who put in large amounts of funds because Navarro was respected in the community.

“(The victims) do not want to come out in public to avoid scrutiny and most are also embarrassed,” the source said.

The source added that the financial losses have severely affected the Chinese-Filipino community in Iloilo.

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