MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is now coordinating with Interpol and the Malaysian Embassy in the Philippines in efforts to locate the whereabouts of 32-year-old Malaysian Mohammad Suffian Saaid, also known as Manuel Amalilio, founder of Aman Futures Group Phils., Inc., a firm being implicated in a P12-billion pyramiding scam.
The scam has reportedly victimized some 15,000 people, mostly in the Visayas and Mindanao. Some of the victims are reportedly local officials, government employees, and police and military officers.
NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas bared that sightings of Saaid in Malaysia had been reported.
The NBI sent a notice with the Interpol and Malaysian Embassy on Thursday informing them of the syndicated estafa charges slapped against Saaid at the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Rojas said that once Malaysian authorities confirm Saaid's presence in Malaysia, the NBI will request that he be brought here in the Philippines to face the charges in spite of the absence of an extradition treaty and Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) with Malaysia.
Rojas admitted, however, that requesting for Saaid to be brought here may face a hurdle, considering there is yet no warrant for his arrest issued by any trial court.
The DOJ will conduct its own probe into the pyramiding scam and will investigate reports that public funds were also used in the multi-billion peso scam.
The DOJ has also issued a lookout order for the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to monitor the movements of responsible officers of Aman Futures Group Phils., Inc.
Justice Secretary Leila De Lima, however, admitted that the DOJ cannot prevent them from leaving the country since there is no warrant of arrest yet against the suspects.
She added that a temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Supreme Court (SC) against the DOJ in November 2011 has since barred the department from issuing watch list orders (WLO) and hold departure orders (HDO).
"We are powerless now to prevent them," she said at a press conference on Thursday.
Task Force formed to probe scam
Meantime, the DOJ, Department of Finance (DOF), and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) will form a National Task Force to investigate the multi-billion-peso pyramiding scam.
De Lima bared this was a directive from no less than President Aquino.
The DOJ also created a 14-member "special panel of prosecutors" to conduct the preliminary investigation of thousands of complaints filed against Aman Futures Group Phils., Inc.. In Pagadian City alone, 8,000 complaints had already been filed against the firm and its responsible officers.
As per Very Urgent DOJ Memorandum Order No. 003 dated Nov. 14 but released to the media only on Thursday, the following are the members of the panel:
- Senior Asst. State Prosecutor (SASP) Edna A. Valenzuela, chairperson
- SASP Merba A. Waga, vice-chairperson
- Asst. State Prosecutor (ASP) Natilaine P. T. Salvilla
- ASP Gino Paolo S. Santiago
- ASP Mari Elvira B. Herrera
- ASP Rex Rassendell F. Gingoyon
- ASP Josie Christina T. Dugay
- ASP Mary Jane W. Sytat
- ASP Amanda A. Felipe
- Prosecution Attorney (PA) Mark Roland Estepa
- PA Jayvee Laurence B. Bandong
- PA Caren Gail M. De Alban
- PA Omar Cris F. Casimiro
- PA Gail Stephanie C. Maderazo
All complaints involving the firm will be transferred to the DOJ main offices in Manila due to heightened tension in the localities and in order to avoid conflicts of interest with local prosecutors.