ILOILO CITY—The head of a financial investment firm accused of defrauding hundreds of investors in Iloilo with billions of pesos has promised to pay all his obligations but denied he ran a scam.
“He is committed to fulfill his obligations and he has demonstrated that he is not running away from his debts. He just needs time,” lawyer Alfredo Arungayan III said in behalf of his client, Reynaldo Navarro.
Navarro is president of Evergreen Finance (Iloilo) Inc. (EFII), which was investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation for allegedly defrauding mostly Chinese-Filipino businessmen in Iloilo.
Seventeen complainants have asked the help of the Department of Justice to recover about P400 million in investments and interests. Sources have estimated the investments in EFII to reach P5 billion.
The NBI legal division is still evaluating the results of the investigation conducted by its Western Visayas office.
Navarro has denied that he gypped investors through EFII.
“My client insists that the [EFII] was not involved because he operated a personal lending business and that his friends had loaned him money with interest,” Arungayan told the Inquirer.
While he issued placements certificates of EFII to investors, these were personal guarantees and not representing the company, according to Navarro. He pointed out that checks issued as payment for interests were personal checks and not from EFII.
Asked why Navarro was operating a lending business similar to a company that he heads, Arungayan said other EFII officers knew of and allowed him to operate his personal business.
Navarro has admitted that he cannot fully pay his obligations immediately. One of the main reasons he has cited is the failure of creditors to pay their loans.
“He has not swindled anyone and he will pay them gradually as he collects payments from creditors,” Arungayan said. “He admits to making bad business decisions affecting his business’ liquidity that eventually led to losses.”
Navarro is facing separate estafa and bouncing check cases in courts in Iloilo. A complaint of syndicated estafa is also pending in the Iloilo City Prosecutor’s Office.
The cases were filed after Navarro began reneging on his payments in the middle of last year and after he failed to comply with demands of payments from clients.