SEC files criminal complaint vs Calata CEO

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 08 2017 06:22 PM | Updated as of Nov 09 2017 05:34 AM

(UPDATED) The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed a criminal complaint with the Department of Justice (DOJ) against agribusiness firm Calata Corporation for alleged misleading statements in connection with its P65-billion Mactan Leisure City project in Mactan, Cebu.

Calata and its president and chief executive officer Joseph Calata, corporate secretary Atty. Jose Marie Fabella, chief financial and chief operations officer Benison Paul de Torres, and directors Fr. Conrado Zablan, Johnny Uy, Halmond Parker Ong, and Edmund Solilapsi are facing charges for for violations of Section 24 (d), which pertains to manipulation of security prices, devices, and practices; and Section 54.1 (c), which pertains to making untrue statements on records required by law, of Republic Act (RA) No. 8799, also known as the Securities Regulation Code.

Michael Foxman, director at Macau Resources Group, Ltd , Calata’s partner, was also impleaded in the complaint.

The SEC cited Calata’s disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) on August 23, 2016 that it was proceeding with the integrated gaming resort project even as its application was denied three months prior by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor).

Pagcor said the project failed to meet the minimum requirement of 50-hectares of land since the property intended for the resort was merely 14-hectares. On top of this, another casino, Waterfront Hotel and Casino, is already operating in Mactan island.

"When the disclosure came, they made it appear as if that there was still that plan. In fact, the disclosure is by 2017 they will be able to receive that license and that by 2020 it will be fully operational,” SEC director for enforcement and investor protection department Atty. Jose Aquino said.

The SEC said Calata’s disclosure was intended to entice investors to purchase its securities on the stock market based on “the usual effect of positive disclosures which affect investor’s sentiment."

The SEC noted that Calata’s shares went up by 28.16-percent, while its trading volume rose by 2,455 percent, following the subject disclosure.

Calata has already been delisted from the PSE for violations of the local bourse’s disclosure rules. - with a report from Johnson Manabat, ABS-CBN News