Aman scam is ‘biggest’ in PH

Posted on November 16, 2012

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The pyramid racket of Aman Futures in the Visayas and Mindanao could be the biggest scam the country has seen so far, bigger than the bank scam perpetrated by the Legacy Group, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima said yesterday.

About 15,000 investors were duped out of P12 billion, she said.

She confirmed that the company’s CEO, Malaysian Manuel Amalilio is in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia, which has no extradition treaty with the Philippines but de Lima said the government could still coordinate with Malaysian authorities to arrest him.

Amalilio, whose Malaysian name is Mohammad Suffian Saaid, founded the company which offered interest rates of 10 percent to 40 percent on risky short-term money placements that eventually collapsed.

De Lima said President Aquino told her he wanted the issuance by next week of warrants for the arrest of those behind Aman Futures, particularly Amalilio.

Here in Cebu City, the National Bureau of Investigation – 7 said eight victims of the pyramiding scam are ready to file syndicated estafa agains Amalilio and Aman Futures incorporators Fernando “Nonoy” R. Luna, Lelian Lim Gan, Edward L. Lim, William L. Fuentes, Naezelle M. Rodriguez and Lurix Lopez.

Luna managed the multi-billion-peso scam and is a former driver and utility person for a company located near the Pagadian City public market.

Only a court can issue arrest warrants.

In a speech before the Kapisanan ng mga Broadcaster sa Pilipinas management conference in Tagaytay City, President Benigno Aquino III yesterday said he would invoke the Mutual Legal Treaty with Southeast Asia countries to bring Filipino-Malaysian Manuel Amalilio, founder of Aman Futures Group Philippines Inc., back to the country to face investigation.

Mr. Aquino said that the National Bureau of Investigation has begun coordinating with Malaysian authorities to take custody of Amalilio.

“We will not stop. There should be justice. We need to bring these people to the bars of justice; that’s why there’s a manhunt for all those involved,” the President said.

According to the President, the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty was a mechanism available in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations which the Philippines could invoke in Amalilio’s case.

So far, there are 8,000 complainants, all in Pagadian City where Aman Futures first operated this year until it expanded to neighboring provinces.

NBI Director Nonatus Roxas said he was coordinating with the Malaysian embassy and that the Philippine government would have Amalilio deported.

Even if Amalilio left Malaysia, Roxas said, the NBI “will follow where he is” with the help of counterparts in whichever country he went.

Roxas said 20 to 30 executives and agents of Aman Futures were still in the country, and “we will take them” when the arrest warrants are issued.

De Lima said the President wanted a consolidated report on the cases. “This is a very serious undertaking and serious assignment for us directly from the President,” she said.

A panel of prosecutors was formed to help victims file cases of syndicated estafa, a non-bailable offense, against the operators of Aman Futures before the end of the year.

De Lima also ordered a manhunt for the officials of the Pasay City-based firm.

Its thousands of victims include local politicians, police and military personnel, government employees, market vendors, farmers, drivers, retired employees and overseas workers.

At a news conference, asked whether the pyramid scam perpetrated by Aman Futures was bigger than that of the Legacy Group of the late Celso de los Angeles, De Lima said “it looks like it.”

She said the DOJ was trying to determine whether another group, reportedly engaged in a pyramid scam in Lanao, was part of Aman Futures.

She noted that the “modus operandi” of the Koko Rasoman group and Aman Futures were related. /With reports from Carmel Loise Matus

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