Duterte orders closure of Ponzi-like investment firms

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/8 June) – President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered Saturday the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and National Bureau of Investigation to padlock Ponzi-like investment firms offering huge returns.

Among the firms Duterte mentioned was Kapa Community Ministry International Inc.

The President also warned the people behind these companies they could be charged with syndicated estafa.

Speaking during the Give Us This Day episode of Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy, Duterte told authorities to immediately close any firm soliciting investments from the public as these are “pyramiding” schemes.

The full-length interview with the President was streamed live on Quiboloy’s Facebook account around 1 a.m. on Saturday.

“When it is good to be true, it is fraud. Biro mo yung P100k mo would earn P30k a month (Just imagine your P100,000 would earn you P30,000 a month),” he said, saying the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas could only even allow banks to give interest of 3% annually.

He said no bank could afford to offer extraordinary returns to people for their deposits.

“Kayong mga Pilipino ilang beses ko na kayo pinagsasabihan, ‘pag ang what is being promised to you, is something like heaven walang tao dito, walang bangko maski yung Bank of America (You Filipinos, how many times have I told you that if what is being promised to you, is something like heaven, there is no one, no bank, not even the Bank of America) can afford to pay you P30,000 every month for your P100,000,” he said.

Citing the multi-billion Legacy scam, the President said the problem with any investment scheme is that it would collapse one day, leaving several investors unpaid.

In a decision last April 3, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revoked the certificate of corporation registration of Kapa, which was found collecting investments from the public in the guise of “donations” even if it was not a registered issuer of any securities and not licensed to offer or sell securities.

According to SEC, the Securities Regulation Code requires that the “issuing person and/or entity must be registered corporation with SEC, the said securities offered are duly registered and that the appropriate license and/or permit to sell securities to the public are issued to the corporation and/or its agents.”

On May 24, the SEC warned the public to exercise caution in investing their money in Rigen and in other similar investment schemes, involving the sale of unregistered securities.

It also warned that anyone caught as a salesman, broker, or agents of Rigen in selling or convincing people to invest in the investment scheme being offered, including solicitations or recruitment may likewise be prosecuted and held criminally liable and penalized with a maximum fine of P5 million or imprisonment of 21 years.

The SEC in its May 31 advisory, also warned the public of fraudulent investment companies that are soliciting investments online.

It said the Ponzi scheme “ordinarily collapses as fast as they are created while leaving its investors behind, unable to recoup their investments.” It reminded the public that investment schemes, whether with the use of money or cryptocurrencies, are considered securities subject to the regulatory authority of this Commission.

It said the sale of securities without a permit or license from the SEC is a violation of Section 8.1 of the Securities Regulation Code, which states that “securities shall not be sold or offered for sale or distribution within the Philippines, without a registration statement duly filed with and approved by the Commission. Prior to such sale, information on the securities, in such form and with such substance as the Commission may prescribe, shall be made available to each prospective purchaser.”

The recruitment of investor “members under the guise of sponsoring a person into the system is likewise considered a form of investment solicitation or a sale of securities,” it added.

The SEC identified examples of investment companies that are soliciting investment through social media: MGA Business Enterprises, Coophub Multimedia Services, Jogle Innovative Marketing, Global Dream Zion, Grappler, Sherpan, BCT Marketing/BCT Motorcycle and Car Trading, RTM/RTM Pharmacy and General Merchandise, Diamond Marketing, Fusion Marketing, FMarket, Cirfund, Vibearn, Onepro, BCC/BCC Cosmetics Trading, Unlishop Compensation Plan Marketing, VUCC, Bitrain, TCOIN, Crowd Royals, Ada Farm Agri Venture, Nermie Marketing/Nermie Health and Beauty Products Trading.

It said the schemes of these companies include offering investment contracts in Facebook pages or secret Facebook groups and chatroom, YouTube, etc; offering unrealistic return on investments ranging from 10% to 400% per month; requiring investors to pay their initial investments by depositing their money to a specific bank account, Coins.Ph account, GCash, through a money remittance company and through face-to-payment with one of the entity’s agents.

They would also ask the investors to send through a private message a copy of the proof of the deposit to the offeror who shall send his confirmation after validation; deliver payouts through similar methods; and claim that they invest their funds in forex, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to justify their earning capacity, it said.

The commission said the public could spot these fraudulent schemes when “investments sound too good to be true,” claims on their websites promise that an investment will make “incredible gains” or has “huge upside and almost no risk,” promise of “guaranteed” returns, and there is pressure to buy right now. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)