Court acquits businessman Roberto Ongpin of insider trading charge

UNTV News   •   December 13, 2017   •   4055

MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals (CA) has cleared businessman and former trade minister, Roberto Ongpin in an administrative case involving the alleged insider trading in the shares of Philex Mining Corporation in 2009.

In the decision of the former CA Special 13th Division penned by Justice Maria Luisa Quijano-Padilla, the appellate court reversed and dismissed the ruling of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

In the said SEC decision, the agency ordered Ongpin to pay P174-million for violating the Securities Regulation Code.

The Appellate Court explained the fine imposed by SEC has no basis as the law limits the monetary penalty the agency can impose to up to P1-million only for insider trading charges. – UNTV News & Rescue

SEC orders ALMAMICO, ALAMCCO to stop Ponzi-like investment scheme

Robie de Guzman   •   July 3, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday ordered Alabel Maasim Mining (ALMAMICO) Corp., Alabel-Maasim Credit Cooperative (ALAMCCO) to stop soliciting money through the Ponzi scheme and without the necessary license.

The SEC said a cease and desist order was issued by the Commission En Banc on June 4, directing ALMAMICO and ALAMCCO to stop engaging in offering and selling to the public securities in the form of investment contracts without the necessary license from the agency.

The said entities operate largely in Sarangani, General Santos and Koronadal Cities, enticing members to invest their money in exchange for a 35 percent monthly return which is supposedly compounded when investors lock in their investments for a year.

According to the SEC, the scheme satisfies the elements of an investment contract, including the placement of money, the money invested is placed in a common enterprise, expectation of profits, and the generation of expected profits from the entrepreneurial and managerial efforts of others.

“ALMAMICO and ALAMCCO were also found to have engaged in public offering of securities when they indiscriminately or randomly promoted their investment schemes through videos posted online,” the agency said in a news release.

The SEC said that under Section 8.1 of Republic Act No. 8799, or the Securities Regulation Code, “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.”

The commission also noted that aside from operating without license, the investment scheme of ALMAMICO and ALAMCCO also resembles a Ponzi scheme, which is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new members.

The SEC has ordered the group’s officials and partners to stop promoting the scheme, and immediately delete the promotional videos from the internet.

Those who have invested in the said companies are also advised to contact the SEC offices in Davao City and Cagayan de Oro City.

President Rodrigo Duterte had previously ordered agencies to launch a crackdown on companies that offer ‘too good to be true’ investment schemes.

Last May, hundreds of ALAMCCO members gathered in Sarangani to protest against the government crackdown, insisting that their investment scheme is not a scam.

Criminal raps to be filed vs Kapa Ministry — SEC

Robie de Guzman   •   June 11, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is set to file criminal complaints against the officials of Kapa Community Ministry International for allegedly operating a fraudulent investment scheme.

SEC Chairman Emilio Aquino said Kapa Ministry solicited what it called “donations,” promising returns as high as 30 percent per month although it did not have the appropriate secondary license for investment products.

The SEC said that based on their investigation, Kapa promised its members billions of pesos in returns, but its assets cannot back up such claims.

SEC records show that Kapa, which is short for Kabus Padatuon (Enrich the Poor), registered as an independent religious organization in March 2017 indicating its headquarters in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur.

But several days after its registration, the SEC issued an advisory against Kapa for unauthorized solicitation of investments.

In October 2018, the SEC issued another advisory for the same reason while in February 2019 a cease-and-desist order was issued against Kapa.

Aquino said they held back from taking action against Kapa due to court injunctions and its operation as a religious group.

Last June 4, the Court of Appeals (CA) ordered the freezing of several bank accounts and other assets linked to Kapa upon the petition of the SEC and the Anti-Money Laundering Council.

Its founder, who identified himself as Pastor Joel Apolinario, denied the allegations while insisting that the sole aim of the organization was to help the poor.

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Ressa, six other Rappler execs face charges anew over anti-dummy law violation

Maris Federez   •   March 29, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice charged Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and six other members of the board of directors of violation of the Anti-Dummy Law or Commonwealth Act No. 108 and the Securities and Regulations Code.

The charge filed before Pasig City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 265, is in connection with Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs) it issued to Omidyar Network Fund, LLC in 2015.

Along with Ressa, other members of Rappler Holdings Corporation facing charges are: Glenda Gloria, managing editor of Rappler, Manuel Ayala, Nico Jose Nolledo, James Bitanga, Felica Atienza, and  James Velasquez.

The court is yet to release the copy of the full resolution to the public.

The case stemmed from the ruling of the Securities and Exchange Commission ordering the cancellation of the certificate of incorporation of the online news site and Omidyar’s Philippine Depository Receipts.

The court said the online news site violated the constitutional restrictions on mass media ownership and control for receiving a donation from Omidyar Network, owned by eBay founder and entrepreneur Pierre Omidyar.

PDRs are issued to foreign investors which grants them the right to engage in the delivery of sale in a Philippine company.  PDRs are not evidence or statements nor certificates of ownership of a corporation.  

The six Rappler board members have reportedly paid a bail bond of P90,000 each for the charge of violation of the Anti-Dummy Law, ahead of the issuance of a warrant.

Ressa who is out of the country, however, has yet to post bail for the said charge which is set at P126,000 each.

Pasig RTC 265 set the arraignment and pre-trial of the case on April 10. – Maris Federez

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