MANILA - Embattled Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co yet again denies involvement in the Aman Futures investment scam.
While he failed to personally appear before the special panel of prosecutors handling the syndicated estafa charges against him with the Department of Justice (DOJ), Co, through his lawyer, Angel Gatmaitan, submitted a 3-page counter-affidavit on the complaint filed by one Julius Labunog.
Labunog's group claims Aman Futures duped them of P30 million worth of investments.
Co, a member of the ruling Liberal Party and running for a congressional post in the midterm polls, flatly denied the charges leveled against him. He claimed political harassment caused the filing of the complaints.
"I vehemently deny the complaint against me because, as will be shown... I am also a victim of Mr. Manuel Amalilio (Aman Futures founder) and his cohorts and this complaint is nothing but a malicious and politically motivated harassment suit against me because of my present candidacy as member of the House of Representatives representing the First District of Zamboanga Del Sur after being City Mayor of Pagadian City," Co said.
Co denied he received investments from Labunog's group.
"I never met, much less transacted with any of them. I have not received any money from them nor have paid them anything," he said.
Co also denied that he vouched for Aman Futures as a legitimate business entity and that he collected a 4% tax from the firm.
"Contrary to the claim of Mr. Labunog, I have not entered into any agreement with Aman Futures regarding the imposition of 4% tax on Aman Futures or to make it appear in public that it is a legitimate business. However, I admit that I have made some personal investments in Aman Futures, just like the complainants," he said.
Co also defended his issuance of a temporary permit in favor of Aman Futures, stating the firm's officers were able to present "corporate documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)" and promised to present a secondary license.
Aman Futures operating without license - SEC
It must be noted, however, that no less than the SEC has filed a separate complaint with the DOJ against Aman Futures and its responsible officers for violations of Republic Act (RA) No. 8799, also known as "The Securities Regulation Code."
In a complaint filed last November, the SEC accused Aman Futures of violations of Sections 8 and 26 of the said law.
Sec. 8 on Requirement of Registration of Securities states that "[securities] shall not be sold or offered for sale or distribution within the Philippines, without a registration statement duly filed with and approved by the Commission."
Sec. 26, meantime, states that "[i]t shall be unlawful for any person, directly or indirectly, in connection with the purchase or sale of any securities to: employ any device, scheme, or artifice to defraud; obtain money or property by means of any untrue statement of a material fact of any omission to state a material fact necessary in order to make the statements made, in the light of the circumstances under which they were made, not misleading; or engage in any act, transaction, practice or course of business which operates or would operate as a fraud or deceit upon any person."
Asked for comment how Co, as local chief executive, allowed the operation of a firm that operated beyond its authority, Atty. Gatmaitan said the permit granted to Aman Futures was merely temporary.
Gatmaitian said Co and his wife, Priscilla, will explain in full their defense on why a double-your-money scheme was allowed to operate in Pagadian City, why they invested in Aman Futures, and why the alleged Ponzi scheme was not nipped in the bud by the Mayor. The couple is set to submit their counter-affidavits on 2 other large-scale estafa complaints.
In an earlier interview, Justice Sec. Leila De Lima assured the public that politics will not influence the outcome of the preliminary investigation into complaints against Co.
Gatmaitan said Co was in Pagadian City to head a "Kasalan ng Bayan" which was why he failed to attend the DOJ hearing today.