DATU ODIN SINSUAT, Maguindanao (MindaNews/11 December) — Rido or clan wars may erupt among political families in Lanao del Sur if suspected Ponzi operator Jachob “Coco” Rasuman would renege on his self-imposed deadlines to pay back his investors by February next year, an investor of Rasuman said here Sunday.
In an interview, Ayesha, who requested anonymity for security reasons, said that contrary to Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong’s pronouncements to reporters recently, kidnapping and other threats of violence have already started in the province.
Ayesha said she felt compelled to divulge what has been happening in their province after reading Adiong’s claim as published in local papers.
Earlier this month, Adiong, who was in Cagayan de Oro City to attend a social function told media that the crisis committee they created, with the cooperation with government security forces in the region, was on top of the situation and assured that no violence would occur in relation to the Ponzi scam.
He denied rumors that some of the municipal governments in his province have invested their Internal Revenue Allotment with the Rasumans.
The governor added they have not monitored any incidents of violence in the province since Rasuman’s arrest by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) agents in one of his residences in Marawi City, late last month.
Ayesha decried Adiong’s denial that the governor invested with the Rasumans and that some local government units in the province did the same using their Internal Revenue Allotments.
“At the moment, there are no violent incidents as the powerful politicians had invested their money and firearms. They have no resources now. Coco accepted arms [as investment]. They have nothing to use now,” she claimed.
She said the problem will start when Rasuman, as he had promised to the crisis committee and his investors, starts giving partial payments by December 15. With the midterm elections next year, Ayeesha said the politicians that invested with Rasuman would insist to be paid in full.
The children of the investment agents of the Rasumans will be most vulnerable to kidnapping and will likely be used as “leverage” as the deadline of payment of the investments nears, she posited.
“At least 50 per cent of the students in Ibn Siena Integrated School (Isis) have dropped out after a daughter of an investment agent of Rasuman, who studied at St. Therese Academy was kidnapped,” said Ayesha.
“Many who bought expensive cars have hidden them and they have fortified their houses,” she added.
Lured into the scam
Ayesha is a high school teacher in Marawi City. With her husband’s consent, they invested P100,000 with the Rasumans in mid-June. She said the amount was supposed to be intended for their Hadj, or pilgrimage to Mecca during the month of Dhu al-Hijja. Every Muslim is expected to make the journey at least once in their lifetime.
She claimed that Rasuman declared bankruptcy because most of his investment agents transferred the larger investments to Aman Futures, another illegal pyramiding scheme based in Pagadian City.
She said this move, which weakened Coco’s own enterprise, occurred sometime in July.
To be able to recoup his losses, she said that Rasuman promised new would-be investors 150-percent interest after only two months.
“Who would not be tempted to invest? I am a victim. I invested our family savings—Php 100,000. It’s because I saw that my colleagues had received returns from their investments. They could now afford to buy Everest, Fortuner and other expensive cars,” she said.
Ayesha claimed that Adiong invested with Rasuman when the latter’s pyramiding scheme was just starting some years back.
“It had existed for quite some time. I have contemporaries who already earned. You can really see that their money earned,” she said, adding some of them were able to build houses and mansions.
She said she finally gave in and invested sometime in June. When they heard the news that Rasuman filed for bankruptcy in mid-July, it was too late for her to take her money back.
She added that a municipal mayor invested P60 million in cash the day before Rasuman filed for bankruptcy.
“When the mayor went back to Coco the next morning he was told the money was already gone. The mayor was reportedly very mad, but he could do nothing because he could no longer hire men,” Ayesha claimed.
Named after Charles Ponzi, who first used the quick-rich scheme in 1920, the scheme is masked as an investment opportunity where initial investors and the investment agents of the operation are paid out of funds raised from later investors. It is also referred to as pyramiding financial scam where the later investors, being at the bottom part of the “investment pyramid,” lose all the funds they invest.
Posing as NAD 21 Auto Opinion Corporation, Rasuman and his relatives have been accused of collecting some P20 billion from Maranao traders, businessmen, teachers, vendors and even local government officials, coming mostly from Lanao del Sur and Marawi City.
Charge with syndicated estafa at the Regional Trial Court in Cagayan de Oro City with Rasuman are his father, former Public Works and Highways Undersecretary Bashir Dimaampo Rasuman and his relatives, Amer Tomawis, Princess Allah Tomawis Rasuman, Jermiah Amer Rasuman, Jalaima Rasuman-Mangarin, Emma Amer Rasuman, Jerome Amer Rasuman, Jamirie Amer Rasuman, Bashir Rasuman Jr and Jamila Rasuman-Tomawis. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)