Estafa complaint filed vs HPI execs over P1-B investment scam

Rappler.com
Estafa complaint filed vs HPI execs over P1-B investment scam
(1st UPDATE) Quezon City Assistant City Prosecutor Raymund Oliver Almonte recommends that 5 of the 15 executives be charged. The other 10 are cleared.

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine authorities filed a syndicated estafa complaint against 15 executives of a trading corporation for allegedly duping their clients of over P1 billion through an investment scam.

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said on Monday, March 7, that a complaint was filed against 15 executives of Program International Direct Sales and Trading Corporation/HPI Direct Sales and Trading Corporation before the Quezon City Prosecutors’ Office.

The NBI accused them of violating Republic Act No. 8799 or the Securities Regulation Code (SRC) and Batas Pambansa Blg. 22 or the Bouncing Check Law.

In a May 27, 2016 decision, Quezon City Assistant City Prosecutor Raymund Oliver Almonte recommended that 5 of the 15 executives be charged with estafa and violating the Bouncing Check Law:

  1. Darlito dela Cruz, chairman
  2. Queen Ashley Ablan, president
  3. Anthony Purganan
  4. Joycel Cruz
  5. Maytham Mutadha Akbar Abbas

The complaint against the remaining 10 respondents was junked due to lack of merit and insufficiency of evidence.

A copy of the decision was sent to Rappler on January 5, 2022, by one of the initial respondents in the complaint who had been cleared by the prosecutor.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by engineer Ashraf Mohamed Abdelrahman, an Egyptian who is a permanent resident in the country, and married to a Filipina.

In his complaint filed with the NBI, Abdelrahman alleged that the respondents tricked him into investing P38.34 million in the company, an unlicensed investment corporation, with the promise of 30% monthly interest.

Abdelrahman said the HPI chairman issued post-dated checks to him payable until January 2016. He received monthly interest from June to September 2015, but by October, the concerned bank informed him that the HPI account had been closed.

Abdelrahman later discovered that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had issued a cease and desist order against HPI, for unauthorized solicitation of investments.

As early as May 2015, the SEC had already issued an advisory against HPI, another company, and two foundations for the unauthorized solicitation of investments. (READ: How to spot investment scams)

Abdelrahman said despite repeated demands, HPI failed to pay its obligation to him.

Several other HPI victims have directly filed their complaint before the Quezon City Prosecutors’ Office, while some sought the assistance of the NBI-Anti Fraud and Action Division. (READ: Victims of investment scam fight back)

The SEC has repeatedly warned the public against investment scams, saying that if an offer sounds too good to be true – promising hefty returns for little investment – it most likely is. – Rappler.com

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