Manila: Justice Department chief Leila de Lima said her office would conduct an investigation into a multi-billion peso investment scam that had swindled thousands of people of their hard-earned money.
According to reports, at least 15,000 victims, mostly from the Visayas and Mindanao, are up in arms, demanding the return of their investments after a company Aman Futures Group Phils. Inc. duped investors after promising to double their money within a month.
Investments in Aman Futures, according to a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, have reportedly run up to at least P12 billion (Dh1.07 trillion).
The investors include teachers, salaried workers, homemakers, soldiers, policemen and even politicians.
“We are pursuing the investigation on Aman Futures and double checking information that certain public officials are involved in this scam. The National Bureau of Investigation [NBI] is doing its own probe confirming reports about certain local officials investing in the scams and probably using public funds,” de Lima said.
Endorsement by public officials
Reports said that certain public officials, particularly in Pagadian City in Mindanao, had even issued a virtual endorsement of Aman Futures.
The scam was allegedly perpetrated by a 32-year-old Malaysian, Mohammad Suffian Saaid. The foreigner used his adopted Filipino name, Manuel Amalilio, to introduce himself to investors.
De Lima said she has also requested the Bureau of Immigrations to be on the lookout for Saaid and his Filipino cohorts at the country’s ports of exit.
“We are checking if they have already left the country and to where so that we can invoke bilateral agreements like the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty,” he said.
Earlier, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had issued a warning against Aman Futures, saying that the firm was involved in a scam.
Warning by regulator
“The public is reminded to be cautious or exercise prudence in investing their money in high-yield, high-risk investments which may turn out to be a fraudulent scheme,” said SEC in its notice to the public dated August 17, 2012. “Where the scheme involves the sale of securities, please make sure that the securities are registered with the SEC,” it said.
The scheme is not the first time that thousands of Filipinos were duped in money-making investments that turned out to be scams. Five years ago, several police and military officials were hoodwinked in a similar scheme.