SEC wins case vs investment agents

THE CORPORATE regulator won a lawsuit against three operators who illegally solicited investments from the public, the Securities Exchange and Commission (SEC) said on Monday.

The SEC cited a Nov. 27 decision by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 90, which found the RJF Construction and Development Corp. officers guilty beyond reasonable doubt for violating the Securities Regulation Code (SRC).

RJF claimed to be a land developer accredited with the Home Development Mutual Fund, popularly known as the Pag-IBIG Fund.

“Winning cases against perpetrators of fraudulent investment schemes affirm the Commission’s commitment to holding them accountable for their actions against our fellow Filipinos,” SEC Chairperson Emilio B. Aquino said in a statement on Monday.

He said that the regulatory body will “remain steadfast” in protecting investors and educating the public about investment scams.

The RTC branch’s recent decision stemmed from a case filed in 2009 by 22 complainants who accused the RJF officers for enticing them to make an investment at a guaranteed interest rate of 5% per month or 60% per year.

The complainants were allegedly given post-dated checks as proof of their investments, and original copies of land titles that served as loan securities.

RJF issued 16 promissory notes, supported by post-dated checks to the 22 complainants.

“The company claimed that the money raised will be used to finance its PAG-IBIG housing project worth about P2.5 billion, or 1,016 housing units for about P200,000 each,” the SEC said in a statement.

The SEC said that, while the company was able to give promised returns to investors, RJF “eventually failed to pay the guaranteed interest and principal,” which prompted investors to seek help from the commission.

The court ruled that the post-dated checks issued by the company assumed the character of “evidences of indebtedness,” which are considered as forms of securities. The court also noted that RJF did not have prior license to sell or deal in securities in SEC records, and is not licensed to offer or issue such to the public.

“It is one thing for a corporation to issue checks to satisfy isolated individual obligations, and another for a corporation to execute an elaborate scheme where it would comport itself to the public as a pseudo-investment house and issue postdated checks instead of stocks or securities to evidence the investments of its clients,” the decision read.

Based on the ruling, the three investment scam operators were fined P2 million.

This year, the SEC has issued over a hundred advisories against 100 groups and individuals for soliciting investments without licenses. — Angelica Y. Yang

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