CA affirms freeze order on Megateam's bank accounts

by Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 11 2012 05:07 PM | Updated as of Oct 12 2012 01:07 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Court of Appeals (CA) has stood pat on its order to freeze the bank accounts of alleged members of an international group allegedly responsible for reproducing and distributing copyrighted works, in violation of US laws.

In a 4-page resolution by the Former Second Division, penned by Associate Justice Florito Macalino, the appellate court junked the motion for reconsideration of John Paul Lo and Dahlia Teng Lo of Megateam Corp., allegedly part of the  spurious group, "Mega Conspiracy," that sought the lifting of the freeze order. 

The group has allegedly laundered money amounting to more than $500 million from allover the world. 

Megateam is a BPO company located in Fort Bonifacio Global City. It is allegedly part of the Mega Conspiracy group which operates file-sharing site Megaupload. Megaupload was founded by German national Kim Schmitz or Kim Dotcom. Dotcom was arrested in New Zealand and is fighting extradition to the US, where he is wanted for internet piracy and money laundering. 

The CA issued a resolution last March 26 granting a petition filed by the Anti-Money Laundering Council for the issuance of a freeze order against the bank accounts and all related web accounts under the names of Megateam, Kim Schmitz, John Paul Lo and Dahlia Teng Lo.

On April 17, the appellate court extended the effectivity of the freeze order for another 30 days or up to May 16. 

The AMLC filed a motion for extension of effectivity of the order which was granted by the CA, extending the freeze order for a maximum of 5 months, or up to Sept. 13. 

Lo and Teng filed an MR dated August 13, 2012, but the appellate court denied the MR, ruling that "there is probable cause to believe that the subject bank accounts and related web accounts under the names of John Paul Lo and Dahlia Teng Lo are connected to the unlawful activities attributed to Kim Schmitz and the members of the Mega Conspiracy." 

Based on an investigation made by AMLC, it appeared that the bank accounts of Lo and Teng are beneficiaries of the transactions made by Schmitz. Both also turned out to be incorporators of Megateam Corp., headed by Sven Echternachm, who, in turn, is allegedly a member of Mega Conspiracy. 

"These matters proved that indeed there is probable cause to believe that the subject bank accounts and related web accounts are connected to the unlawful activities linked to Kim Schmitz and the members of the Mega Conspiracy," the appellate court said.

Concurring with the decision were Associate Justices Remedios Salazar-Fernando and Ramon Bato Jr.