DOJ Files Syndicated Estafa Charges Against 11 Suspects In P300-M Fraud
Manila: The wheels of justice have started turning for the victims of a double-your-investment scam in Mindanao as the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed its first syndicated estafa complaint against former Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) undersecretary Bashir Rasuman, his son Jahcob "Coco" Rasuman, and nine other officers of Nad Auto Options (Nad) who are involved in the P300-million ponzi scam in Cagayan de Oro City.
Coco Rasuman, who was already under the protective custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Cagayan de Oro City, was immediately placed under arrest after Judge Bonifacio Macabaya of the Cagayan De Oro City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 20 issued the warrant of arrest.
Coco vehemently denied the accusations that he and his family owns and operates an investment scheme. However, he admitted that there exists a NAD 21 Auto Option Trading, which he solely owns. He said that his business is primarily engaged in petroleum sale and dealing with the trading of cars, second-hand and brand-new, for more or less than three years.
Speaking at a press conference, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said that the syndicated estafa charges was filed Monday before the sala of Judge Macabaya.
Aside from Bashir and Jahcob, named respondents in the complaint were Emma Rasuman, Jeremiah "Maning" Amer Rasuman, Jamirie Amer Rasuman, Jamila Rasuman Tomawis, Jalaima Rasuman Mangarun, Jerome Amer Rasuman, Bashir Rasuman Jr., Amer Tomawis, and Princess Aliah Tomawis Rasuman.
De Lima said the panel handling the Rasuman ponzi case did not recommend bail for all the accused.
While the press conference was ongoing in Manila, the NNBI swooped down on the suspects' hideout in Barangay Panggao Saduc, Marawi City.
A team from the NBI-Northern Mindanao Regional Office (NBI-NEMRO) carried out the arrest of Coco at around 2 p.m. Tuesday, NBI Director Nonnatus Caesar Rojas said.
Rojas, however, could not confirm as of press time whether one of Coco's brother, Jerome Amer, was likewise arrested by the NBI.
"The initial information I've received from our agents in Cagayan de Oro is that they have arrested Coco Rasuman because we all know that he is under protective custody by authorities even before the charges have been filed against him. When the judge issued the warrant, the NBI immediately served the warrant on Coco," Roxas said.
Based on records, the case against the respondents stemmed from various complainants filed by individuals led by Abumar D. Sambitory and 24 other co-complainants, who claimed that the accused, who represented themselves as directors of Nad Auto Option Corporation, enticed them "to invest with the respondents because of the grant of high-interest schemes and guarantee of extraordinary return in investments."
The complainants said that they invested P120 million in cash with Nad Auto Option and they personally handed the money to Coco in Cagayan de Oro City. Sambitory claimed that their investment should have grown to as much as P274,075,000 in two months.
But the complainants said that the accused failed to pay maturing obligations on their investments, ceased business operations, and could no longer be located.
Upon verification with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the complainants found out that NAD Auto Option was not a registered corporation or partnership, and neither was BDR group of Companies, which was supposedly the mother company of NAD Auto Option.
"Thereafter, other investors who were also lured by the respondents proceeded to the residence of respondent Coco at Xavier Estate, Cagayan de Oro City in an attempt to demand for and recover their investments, which proved unsuccessful. This led them to rally outside of the subdivision of respondent Coco to prevent him from escaping and evading his obligations," the complainants said.
Coco said that since he is operating as a sole proprietor, Coco stressed that he cannot be charged with syndicated estafa.
"For syndicated estafa to exist, it must be committed by a syndicate of five or more persons formed with the intention of carrying out the unlawful or illegal act, transaction, enterprise or scheme." he said.
But the Special Panel of Prosecutors, led by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Edna Valenzuela, found all the elements of syndicated estafa in the case.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) issued yesterday lookout bulletins against Pagadian Mayor Samuel Co and 11 suspects in the Rasuman ponzi scam.
BI Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. instructed the bureau's immigration officers to be on the lookout for the pyramid scam suspects should any of them attempt to leave via any of the international airports and seaports nationwide. (With a report from Jun Ramirez)--Courtesy of Manila Bulletin