NBI links Pagadian mayor to pyramid scam

The NBI says it has sufficient evidence to charge Pagadian Mayor Co with graft and estafa

EVIDENCE SPEAKS. De Lima said evidence shows Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co had a hand in the pyramid scam in Visayas and Mindanao.

MANILA, Philippines – The National Bureau of Investigation will recommend the filing of graft and estrafa charges against Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co for his alleged involvement in a P12-billion pyramid scam that victimized thousands of people in Visayas and Mindanao.

Virgilio Mendez, NBI deputy director for regional operations services, said on Monday, November 26, that the agency will recommend the filing of the charges against Co, who is also one of the complainants against the Aman Futures Group, the firm behind the said scam. It is up to the special investigating panel formed by the Department of Justice to adopt NBI’s recommendation. 

Justice Secrertary Leila de Lima said that based on documentary evidence, Co played a role in the pyramid scam. One of the alleged finance managers of Aman Futures group – Maria Dona Coyme – said Co was one of those who sought investors for the group. 

Co, who is running for a congressional seat in the 2013 midterm elections, has said that he also lost P30 million worth of investments to Aman Futures Group. The firm reportedly duped 9,644 people, mostly from Pagadian City, Cagayan de Oro and Cebu with a double-your-money scheme. 

“We cannot close our eyes to the documentary evidence,” De Lima said.

Meanwhile, 5 members of the firm’s board of directors surrendered to the NBI in Manila on November 24. 

Leila Lim Gan, Edmund G. Lim, Wilanie Fuentes, Nazelle Rodriguez and Lurix Lopez – who were named in the travel bulletin issued by the Bureau of Immigration on November 15 – said they are willing to provide information about the group’s operations and also sought protective custody.

“They can give information on the money flow,” De Lima said.

Mendez clarified however that their surrender does not mean they will automatically turn state witnesses, or that the charges against them will be dismissed.

The 5 are expected to submit their counter-affidavits to the investigating panel.

The group’s founder Manuel Amalilio (also known as Mohammad Suffian Saaid) who is reportedly now in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Amalilio fled to Sabah on November 14. – Rappler.com

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