Cops claim P100M bribe try for release of Amalilio wife
MANILA, Philippines—Two hours after the arrest of Abigail Pendulas on Friday, a man offered police P100 million in exchange for the release of the wife of Manuel Amalilio, the alleged brains behind the P12-billion pyramid scam that victimized 15,000 people in the Visayas and Mindanao two years ago.
Chief Insp. Melvin Montante, head of the Central Luzon police intelligence division, said Thursday that the bribe was offered through SPO1 Jose Santos, one of the arresting officers.
Police arrested Pendulas in a bar in the City of San Fernando in Pampanga province at around 11 p.m. on Friday on syndicated estafa charges filed in Iligan City, Misamis Oriental province, by five complainants seeking recovery of P29 million they had lost in the pyramid scam.
‘Name your price’
“My men said she was shaking when they were about to interview her. She passed her [cell] phone to [SPO1] Jose Santos. The caller, a man who did not identify himself and who spoke in Tagalog, first offered P100 million. Then he told Santos, ‘Name your price,’” Montante said.
The call came between 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. on Saturday.
The man did not call again.
Santos confirmed the bribe offer.
Montante said he called Chief Supt. Raul Petrasanta, Central Luzon regional police director, to report the bribery attempt.
“[Chief Supt.] Petrasanta told me, ‘Don’t entertain any offer,’” Montante said.
Pendulas, 26, allegedly a coconspirator in the pyramid scam, is detained in the regional police headquarters at Camp Olivas in San Fernando.
Her lawyer, Rosabel Cui, called the bribery attempt “absolutely untrue” and “ridiculous.”
“She is not the millionaire that they have been trying to portray her to be,” Cui said by telephone.
Pendulas was arrested a year after information came that she had gone into hiding in Central Luzon.
Police said they had difficulty tracking her down because she had a “nose lift” and assumed a different name.
The scam supposedly led by Amalilio, president of Aman Futures Group Philippines Inc., was uncovered in 2012.
The victims include local politicians, policemen, soldiers, government employees, market vendors, farmers, drivers and overseas Filipino workers in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Amalilio was arrested in Malaysia last year for passport fraud. He remains jailed there.
Montante said Pendulas refused to speak to investigators about her role in the pyramid scam, in which investors were lured to invest money with the promise that they would get their investment back within eight days with up to 60-percent profit.
As in the Ponzi scheme, the investors in the pyramid scam were paid from the investments of other, unsuspecting victims.
When Amalilio ran out of new investors to pay off his old investors, the scam collapsed and he fled to the Malaysian state of Sabah in northern Borneo.
He was arrested there in January last year and was about to be deported to the Philippines when a Malaysian court ordered that he stand trial in Malaysia.
Amalilio was sentenced to two years in prison.
As for Pendulas, Montante said she would be turned over to a Department of Justice detention center in Manila soon.
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