11 charged for syndicated estafa in Baguio

BAGUIO CITY  – The city prosecutor’s office recommended the filing of syndicated estafa charges against eleven officials and employees of an alleged Ponzi investment firm upon the complaint of 42 individuals who were divested more than P7 million after finding probable cause in the said case.

In an 8-page joint resolution penned by Associate City Prosecutor Farah C. Agunos, those charged for syndicated estafa were Romel Juaton, Herbert Juaton, Maricris Juaton, Alfred Cacdac, Ariel Espiritu, George Natividad alias Jorge Natividad, Devon Garganera, Kim Sasopona, Rod Baylo, Ver Rolleto and Valentino Dacayanan, all of Klikmart Shopping Club Corp. or Klikmart Distribution and Marketing Services while similar charges against Rona Joyce Alcantara and Mark Orpilla were dismissed for lack of probable cause.

The city prosecutor’s office also ordered the dismissal of complaints for violation of the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8788 against all the respondents for lack of probable cause, however, it was recommended that such cases be brought to the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in order for the said agency to conduct its investigation into the violation of the Securities code alleged by the complainants.

After evaluating the evidence on record, the assigned prosecutor found probable cause to charge the identified respondents for syndicated estafa.

The resolution cited the named respondents allegedly induced the 42 complainants to invest more than P7 million in their hard earned money assuring them of lucrative profits.

To be considered a syndicate, there must be at least five offenders animated by a single criminal purpose of absconding money solicited from the general public.

Agunos cited apparently, the respondents used the corporation, Kilkmart, to engage in a Ponzi scheme resulting in the degradation of its investors.

The case stemmed from the comlaints of 42 individuals who averred that on different occasions, respondents enticed them to invest in Klikmart Shopping Club Corp./ or Klikmart Distribution and Marketing Services due to the offer of guaranteed high returns on investments pegged at 33 percent within three to four weeks reckoned from the time of entry for every investment product entry.

Some of the complainants initially received their return of investments motivating them to re-invest the interest they received and to the extent of investing more. Eventually, complainants were not able to claim anymore their pay-outs promoting them to demand the return of their capital investments but such demands for ignored by the respondents.

A subpoena was issued to all the respondents, however, it could not be served because they transferred to an unknown address, thus, respondents are considered all at large.

It was learned that the respondents entertained and oriented the complainants on the mechanics and operation of their business and that they assured the complainants that they are dealing with a legitimate company because they confirmed to them that Klikmart had already complied with the legal requirements of their investment business.

During the same orientations, the complainants claimed the respondents assured them that their investments would be managed wisely and that the promised returns would be paid on time as they fall due.

The resolution cited the respondents also represented that they were investing the money in various business activities like foreign exchange, foreign exchange trading, micro-financing, and sale of their products.

Agunos stated that Valentino Dacanay, even if not an owner or incorporator, has been repeatedly implicated as the person in charge of orientation and the recruitment of investors and should also be held liable. However, Rona Joyce Alcantara and Mark Orpilla, appear to be staff and mere employees, acting under the control and supervision of their employers.

The case is expected to be raffled to the Regional Trial Court (RTC) for the subsequent issuance of the required warrants of arrest against the respondents.

By Herald Express News Team