BAGUIO CITY – The city prosecutor’s office recommended the filing of syndicated estafa charges against five officials of a Ponzi investment firm that divested from the three initial complainants the amount of P175,000 with a promise of a 30 percent interest every 15 days but suddenly closed operations several days later.
In 6-page joint resolution, Assistant City Prosecutor Conrado Catral, Jr. found probable cause for the filing of syndicated estafa against officials of Bnuena Dinero, namely, Rolando Dave Salamanca, Phoebe Salamanca, Bhaya Diata dela Cruz, Roxanne Clemente and a certain Camille.
However, he recommended the dismissal of similar cases against Mary Grace Ballesteros, Nelia San Jose Quero, Carlito Quero Hugo, Sr. and Mcgyver Natividad and Lourie Ann San Jose for lack of probable cause.
Records showed the complainants alleged that the respondents are all liable for estafa committed by a syndicate for collecting money from them upon a promise of hefty returns of investments, in fact, up to 30 percent interest within 15 days and the pay-outs would be released in two installments every 15 days from the pay-in, and where the amounts invested are supposed to be also invested by the Buena Dinero to sound business opportunities.
On the other hand, the respondents chorused that they never deceived nor made any misrepresentations upon the complainants, specifically respondent Salamanca even claims that he does not have any corporation registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and only owns a small mobile phone repair business, much like respondent Quero, whom Salamanca claims to be his supplier of mobile phones and other products.
Catral pointed the evidence indicates that there is probable cause for estafa under the provisions of Article 315, 2(a) of the Revised Penal Code.
In the aforesaid case, he argued there were presentations made by the respondents to the complainants that they had the business, qualification, authority, or capacity to invest their money to sound business opportunities, ventures or stocks effectively enticing or luring as Salamanca terms it the complainants to pay-in or invest their money in exchange, by way of returns or pay-outs, of hefty profits or usurious interests as termed by Salamanca.
According to him, it stands to reason that the complainants, Zenaida Clemente Sabanal, Mary Lourdes Baranda and Cherrie Ann Api-it, would not have made or given their investments and parted with their money in favor of the respondents who received the money and were expected to comply with their end of the agreements of returning the investments or given pay-outs on the prescribed dates on the agreements to the complainants.
Ironically, the respondents did not comply with their obligations by not giving the returns for the agreements and instead misappropriated them, which amounts to the elements of deceit and damage that makes a case for estafa.
Worst, Catral cited Salamanca et. All made it appear that the pay-ins or investments were supposed to be invested even in stocks as clearly indicated in their agreements with the complainants, thus, when Buena Dinero is not supposed to be even a corporation authorized to trade or deal in stocks, as Salamanca insists he only owns a small mobile phone company.
By his aforesaid actions, the prosecutor cited he made misrepresentations to the complainants that his company could invest the pay-ins via stocks which is the authority given only to corporations duly registered with the SEC which agency issues appropriate securities and stock licenses and in that regards, Salamanca et. Al. could not present such authority or license, as they even admit that they are not a registered corporation, yet they reflect it in their agreements that they would venture their investors money in stocks.
AS far as the provisions of Presidential Decree (PD) 1689, Catral explained the same is a degree increasing the penalty for certain forms of estafa and it provides that there is an upsurge in the commission of swindling and other forms of frauds in rural banks, cooperatives, samahang nayon and farmers cooperatives or corporations and associations operating on funds solicited from the public and that such defraudation or misappropriation of funds erodes the confidence of the public in the banking and cooperative system.