MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Robbie Antonio, son of Century Properties chairman Jose Antonio, is being probed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for allegedly duping several businessmen of P150 million through questionable deals.
Nine contractors and suppliers filed a complaint before the NBI on Thursday claiming that they were lured into different contracts by Antonio's company, Revolution Precrafted Properties Inc., which makes prefabricated homes.
The complainants said that they experienced the same scheme wherein they would win contracts in the company’s real estate development projects if they pay the company 10 percent of the contract’s value.
According to them, the contracts turned out to be dubious since the company failed to secure permits with government agencies to continue with the projects.
The complainants, whose businesses involve furniture, fixtures, construction supplies, say they suffered significant losses since Antonio’s company did not honor their contract in ordering supplies.
In their affidavits, they explained that while it was the company’s management that discussed the terms, Robbie Antonio was present to close the deal.
In a statement to ABS-CBN News, Antonio said Revolution Precrafted will "honor all legitimate contractual obligations".
"Revolution Precrafted like many companies was not exempt from market challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic that significantly affected its sales, collections and operations. Nonetheless, the company sincerely assures its stakeholders that it will honor all legitimate contractual obligations with its partners and suppliers, and only ask for some time consideration to resolve its issues. In parallel, we will also work in earnest to collect what is due the company," he said.
Antonio set up Revolution Precrafted in 2015 to build prefabricated houses done by international designers.
In an interview with ANC in May 2017, Antonio said he had partnered with 44 architects, including the late Pritzker Prize winner Zaha Hadid and American rock singer Lenny Kravitz, to create modern designs.
Antonio said he aimed for the company to be the first Filipino "unicorn" or start-up firm with a valuation of $1 billion.
In November 2017, Revolution was reported to have achieved that goal after getting funding from private equity investors and venture capital firms.
But last year, reports began cropping up that Revolution was not as well-funded as it presented itself to be.
Regional real estate news website DealStreetAsia reported that while the company had a valuation of $1.85 billion, it had sought funding of as little as $1 million to $3 million.
DealStreetAsia also reported that one of the company's projects, Flavorscapes Lakeshore in Pampanga, had “rows of derelict, bare-faced modular structures and not a single construction worker in sight.”
Another online publication, The Ken, meanwhile, questioned whether Revolution had actually delivered a prefab home to the market.
Antonio is one of the most high-profile real estate businessmen in the country, courting the support of international celebrities for his projects.
He has tapped Hollywood socialite Paris Hilton and Sports Illustrated model Kate Upton to promote company projects.
In 2011, while working as managing director of Century Properties, Antonio announced that the company was building Trump Tower Manila.
In January last year, Antonio attended then-US President Donald Trump’s New Year’s Eve party at Trump's Mar-a-Lago. - With a report from Niko Baua, ABS-CBN News