Theft uncovered at 50-year-old stock brokerage

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 07 2019 11:58 AM | Updated as of Nov 07 2019 06:44 PM

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MANILA (UPDATE) -- A 50-year-old stock brokerage has uncovered theft by one of its employees, which according to a newspaper report that first broke the story, involved millions of pesos and forced the company to cease operations.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer report on R&L Investments Inc is "quite accurate," said PSE board member Ali Yu. The report said "over P700 million" worth of the firm's inventory was stolen by its settlement clerk in a long-running scam.

The scale of the theft was unprecedented, "definitely not to this degree," Yu told ANC, as he urged other brokerage houses to check their records.

The "very unscrupulous" clerk, identified as Marlo Moron, is under custody of the authorities and "diverted" stocks to another broker, Yu said.

According to Police Lt. Col. Mary Ivy Salazar, chief of the Cyber Financial Crime Unit of Anti-Cybercrime Group, Moron worked as a settlement clerk for the Mandaluyong City-based firm for 16 years.

In 2011, he reportedly began stealing shares of stocks under the custody of the corporation and selling the said shares for his personal gain.

The company only discovered Moron’s acts when one of the owners received a call from another firm alerting them about unusual borrowing of shares of stocks of their company.

“Me isang broker na tumawag sa akin, Tuesday ng gabi. 'Nanghihiram ka ba ng shares sa akin?' That triggered me. 'Bakit ako manghihiram sayo ng shares, wala naman kaming kliyenteng may mali, wala namang nagbenta, nanghihiram ang tao mo sa amin?'" one of the owners said.

(One of the brokers called me Tuesday night. 'Are you borrowing shares from me?' That triggered me. 'Why am I borrowing shares from you, we don't have clients with mistakes, no one sold anything, and your man is borrowing from us?')

"Hindi namin pwedeng galawin ang shares ng customer unless may authorization ng customer,” she said.

(We can't touch customers' shares without authorization from them.)

This prompted them to investigate and eventually confront the suspect.

“Na-alarma sila doon. Tiningnan nila ang record. Doon sila naalarma na may nawawala silang shares of stocks. Tiningnan nila, nag-audit sila. Na-findout nila na isa sa mga employee nila ang gumagawa ng illegal na transaction,” Salazar said.

(They looked at their records. They were alarmed something was missing in their stock shares. They had an audit. The found out that one of their employees made illegal transactions.)

Moron admitted to the crime, confessing that he transferred the funds fraudulently to another person who in turn sold the stocks and was given a percentage of the sales as commission.

Moron told ABS-CBN News he spent the money in the casino and lost half a billion pesos over the years.

He was charged with Qualified Theft and violations of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 and Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998.

R&L has assured its clients that "all shares will be there" and they have the option to sell based on Oct. 31 prices, Yu said.

The brokerage will liquidate some of its assets "just to settle everything," said Yu.

"What the PSE has done is come in, step in and ascertain that all settled trades are in," he said.

Even R&L clients with stolen shares will be compensated, he said. Yu quoted the brokerage: "We will settle all obligations. We will address all clients' shares," he said.

- with a report from Maan Macapagal, ABS-CBN News