MANILA, Philippines – The Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) on Monday, December 3, seized the bank deposits of Aman Futures amounting to P200 million.
This was disclosed to a House committee on Tuesday, December 4, by AMLC Executive Director Vicente Aquino.
In the same hearing conducted by the House Committee on Banks and Financial Intermediaries, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) came under fire over what lawmakers said were their failure to anticipate the P12-B Aman Futures scam.
Cagayan de Oro Rep Rufus Rodriguez, author of House Resolution 2890, and committee members grilled representatives of NBI and SEC. “You have to be proactive. The reason why we have things like these is because SEC has not been proactive but reactive,” Rodriguez said.
Aman Futures offered investors 30 to 80 percent return on investments over 8 to 20 days. The potential for huge profits enticed thousands, initially in Pagadian CIty and later on in Lanao del Sur, Zamboanga, and Cebu City.
Key investors, including Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co, have been charged with estafa over the scam. More than 11,000 complaints have been filed against Aman Futures so far.
During the hearing, it was revealed that Aman Futures Group Phils. Inc., which duped 15,000 people in Visayas and Mindanao, operated in February this year starting in wet markets with vendors and tricycle drivers as investors.
When Aman Futures registered with the SEC in June 22, transaction began to increase. The huge number of transactions was recorded until the first week of September.
Although the NBI started its investigation in June, they had to wait until they got a complaint in October before they filed a case against Aman Futures in the Pagadian City’s Prosecutor’s Office.
“We’ve had some difficulty in encouraging people to come out and file a complaint with us. They were looking at the NBI as some sort of ‘istorbo’ because everybody was sort of happy with what’s going on but we already felt that there was a problem; that it was a scam,” NBI Director Nonatus Ceasar Rojas said.
Investors were reluctant to share information about the Aman Futures because they were warned that their investment will be affected, according to NBI Deputy Director Virgilio Mendez.
The SEC said it started its own investigation in August, prompting criticism from members of the committee who said the agency should not have played a “waiting game.”
But SEC chairperson Teresita Herbosa said that the NBI should have conducted an entrapment operation and that local government units should have also monitored early on the activities of Aman Futures.
“We cannot possibly watch each and every person trying to deposit money somewhere and see if they’re putting their money in an investment scam. The better measure is to heighten public awareness,” Herbos said as she appealed to congressmen to warn their constituents of these types of scam.
Representative Rodriguez, citing the Securities Regulation Code, said that the SEC has powers to investigate even without a complaint.
“Let us not wait for people to come to you. That is the reason why we felt that you were sleeping on the job,” he told Herbosa. – Rappler.com