Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NBI nabs investment firm boss in Marawi

..MANILA, Philippines - Combined elements of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine Army and police arrested yesterday Jachob “Coco” Rasuman, head of a trading firm involved in another massive investment scam in Mindanao, in Marawi City. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima confirmed that Rasuman was arrested at around 2 p.m. in his safehouse in Barangay Panggao Saduc where he was staying while under military protective custody. The arrest was ordered by Cagayan de Oro City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 20 Judge Bonifacio Macabaya immediately after receiving the syndicated estafa complaint filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against Rasuman and 10 others. Also ordered arrested were Rasuman’s father and former Department of Public Works and Highways undersecretary Bashir Rasuman, and their relatives identified as Emma Rasuman, Jeremiah Amer Rasuman, Jamirie Amer Rasuman, Jerome Amer Rasuman, Bashir Rasuman Jr., Jamila Rasuman Tomawis, Jalaima Rasuman Mangarun, Amer Tomawis, and Princess Aliah Tomawis Rasuman. Authorities were still tracing the whereabouts of the other accused and the former undersecretary, who was said to be in his house in Metro Manila. “We expect the other accused to voluntarily surrender,” De Lima said. NBI Director Nonnatus Caesar Roxas said Rasuman would be brought to the NBI regional office in Cagayan de Oro before being turned over to Manila. NBI deputy director Virgilio Mendez said during a television interview in Mindanao that Rasuman may have collected around P7 billion, almost as much as that of Aman Futures Group Phil. Inc. Mendez said that Rasuman was with his lawyers and authorities were not able to talk to him yesterday afternoon. “There are several complainants but I could not give an estimate as to how many they are. We do not know the average investments but some were reportedly as much as P5 million. The investors were from all walks of life. There are a lot of investors. Some were even prominent people,” he said. A tale of lies and schemes The special panel of prosecutors chaired by Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Edna Valenzuela filed the case in court after finding probable cause in the initial complaint of 25 victims who lost some P120 million in investments to the Ponzi-type scheme employed by Rasuman’s Nad 21 Auto Option Corp. The fiscals recommended to the court not to allow the accused to post bail. In a consolidated complaint filed before the Cagayan de Oro City fiscal’s office and forwarded to the DOJ panel recently, the victims led by Abumar Sambitory said Rasuman and the other officers of Nad duped them by promising return of investment of as much as 50 to 100 percent in just two months. Records showed that the complainants personally handed their investment to Rasuman and expected to receive as much as P274 million, but the primary accused failed to deliver. Rasuman had initially asked the investors to give him until last August to pay them, but he again failed to do so. Rasuman and the other officers of Nad then ceased business operations and could no longer be located. Upon verification with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the complainants found that Nad 21 Auto Option was not a registered corporation or partnership, and neither was BDR group of companies, which was supposedly its mother company. “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 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. In the preliminary investigation, Rasuman vehemently denied the accusations that he and his family own and operate an investment scheme, but admitted that there exists a NAD 21 Auto Option Trading, which he solely owned. He claimed that his business was primarily engaged in petroleum sale, and dealing with the trading of cars, second-hand and brand new, for some three years. Coco said that complainant Abu-Amar approached him because the latter was interested in infusing some capital to his business. Rasuman claimed he cannot be held liable for syndicated estafa because he never enticed the complainants to give their money and even pointed out that it was the complainants who begged him to put their money in his business. Since he is operating as a sole proprietor, he 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 DOJ junked his defense, saying all the elements of syndicated estafa were present in the case. “By their modus, respondents, who are closely related to each other, showed unity of design and purpose in defrauding the public,” read the DOJ resolution. The DOJ panel is investigating four other complaints filed against Rasuman and the others, while the initial case will be heard by the Cagayan de Oro regional trial court. No way out Meanwhile, Immigration Commissioner Ricardo David Jr. announced that they have included Pagadian Mayor Samuel Co and Rasuman’s co-accused in a lookout bulletin, with the express instruction that they should be barred from leaving the country. De Lima last week directed the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to include in its lookout list 40 individuals linked to Aman Futures. David has also directed their immigration officers to detain the suspects the moment warrants for their arrest are issued by the courts. – Sandy Araneta, Evelyn Macairan - By Edu Punay (Philstar News Service, ..