financial scandals

SEC files criminal complaint vs Abra Mining over trading fraud

Ralf Rivas

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SEC files criminal complaint vs Abra Mining over trading fraud
The Securities and Exchange Commission urges the Department of Justice to implement civil and criminal forfeiture against Abra Mining, its officers, and its stock transfer agent

MANILA, Philippines – Abra Mining and Industrial Corporation, its directors, officers, transfer agent, and some stockholders are facing a criminal complaint before the Department of Justice (DOJ) for alleged trading fraud.

In a complaint-affidavit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the regulator said it found the respondents liable for 441 counts of violations of the Securities Regulation Code and the Revised Corporation Code, which were allegedly committed from 2015 to 2019.

The SEC also asked the DOJ to implement civil and criminal forfeiture against the respondents under the Anti-Money Laundering Act, along with other relevant measures, including asset preservation.

Among the respondents are Abra Mining president James Beloy and five other officers, as well as five officials of Asian Transfer and Registry Corporation. The SEC also included five stockholders who allegedly colluded with Abra Mining executives.

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The SEC earlier slapped a P560-million fine on Abra Mining for discrepancies in its shares lodged with the Philippine Depository and Trust Corporation. The total number of Abra Mining shares lodged with the PDTC totaled 258.96 billion, but the total number of the company’s listed shares in the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) was only 72.95 billion.

Abra Mining’s total shares indicated in its registration statement was only at 95 billion, while issued and subscribed shares indicated in its corporate documents totaled 99.3 billion and 199.3 billion, respectively.

The SEC found that illegal issuances of shares reached 169.05 billion, covering 474 stock certificates from 2015 to 2019. These illegally issued shares were lodged and traded on the PSE in numerous transactions.

“The gravity of the violation committed by respondent AR (Abra Mining) for the issuance of certificates representing unregistered AR shares, Asian Transfer, as the transfer agent for allowing the unregistered shares to be offered to the public, and by the Collados for offering the unregistered AR shares to the public, has been sufficiently proven,” the SEC said.

“The violation committed by the respondents is so grave and serious as it amounts to circulating worthless AR shares to the prejudice of the investing public,” it added.

The PSE has urged minority shareholders of Abra Mining to seek legal advice on available remedies, as the local bourse operator moves to delist the company. –

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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.