Alleged Ponzi firm uses new name, fails to fool SEC
THE SECURITIES and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed in the Department of Justice another criminal complaint against the directors and incorporators of One Lightning Corp., a direct selling and investment firm earlier shut down for allegedly duping clients of some P500 million.
In a new complaint filed on Friday, the SEC enforcement and investor protection department (EIPD) said the same officials of One Lightning continued to publicly offer and sell investment contracts without permit by creating a new firm, FDS Forward Direct Selling Corp.
Named respondents for violation of Section 28 of the Securities Regulation Code were One Lightning president Terrence Kenji Ito, board chair Theodore Yuji Ito and incorporators Aldus Renier Tubiera, Joanary Roxas and Jake Ryu Oprecio.
In March last year, the SEC issued a cease-and-desist order on the operations of One Lightning and filed a syndicated estafa case against its eight officials in the Pasig City regional trial court, which issued early this year arrest warrants and hold-departure orders for the officials.
In the new complaint, SEC-EIPD Director Jose Aquino said the agency filed the latest case after receiving complaints from FDS investors who failed to get their money back.
“Under the pretext of being a multilevel marketing company, the respondents offered huge returns to investors who had to purchase of certain cosmetic and health products,” the complaint said.
“The ploy employed by the corporation was clearly a Ponzi scheme which they tried to hide by making it appear to be a multilevel networking company engaged in the marketing of cosmetic and health products,” it added.
In a Ponzi scheme, investments are solicited by offering huge profits to investors. The profits are usually derived from the investments made by later investors. The scheme is unsustainable as it requires an ever increasing pool of new investors to pay off the earlier investors.
In an interview, Aquino explained that investors were enticed by FDS’ offer to pay from 28 to 30 percent plus return of investment after three months.
“In some cases, the products were not even delivered… the company was focused on recruiting more and more investors by offering referral fees, unilevel bonuses and maturity rewards,” Aquino said.
The first case filed against the respondents earlier this year in the Pasig RTC involved their failure to return as much as P500 million to 100 investors.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.