Chiz decries slow AMLC response to Aman scam

By Ira Pedrasa,

Posted at Nov 27 2012 09:15 PM | Updated as of Nov 28 2012 07:17 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Senator Francis 'Chiz' Escudero criticized the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and other government offices for ignoring what he said were already clear red flags on the alleged scam being perpetrated by Aman Futures.

"It is a puzzle why all the tell-tale signs were ignored by AMLC when bank transactions and activities by the Aman group and other related companies are already swelling with red flag signals. The Aman Futures scam has been in the open in Pagadian since two months ago. Evidence should have been available by now. In fact, the Securities and Exchange Commission website has come out with a warning on the Aman investment scam," he said in a statement.

AMLC, via the Office of the Solicitor General, files with the Court of Appeals a motion for a freeze order against companies involved in money laundering and other scams. It does not, however, publicize its moves to deter massive withdrawals of deposits.

"Accounts should not be limited to Aman but should also cover those linked to it. The AMLC has authority to freeze the principal accounts and other accounts within what is known as 'web of accounts.' It should be done now. Time is against the hapless investors if the scammers are already moving to siphon off their loot from the country," he said.

Motu propio

He said the Department of Justice (DOJ) is also needed to immediately secure the list of those who invested in Aman Futures and how much investments were put as this may lead to concrete evidence.

In fact, the DOJ should not dilly-dally and can even file a case against Aman officials motu propio (on its own) given the magnitude of the scam and the number of victims, he said.

"The DOJ can already come up with a solid formal case against the Aman Group to enable the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLAC) to secure or freeze its assets," he added. He explained that accounts can already be ordered frozen by a mere probable cause.

"It is also critical that the DOJ look into who invested heavily in Aman. It should pique the curiosity of the Ombudsman or the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) for that matter, to look at any paper trail, data, and record and evaluate if these individuals or groups have been tax compliant," he said.