THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Tuesday, June 18, lodged a criminal complaint against Kapa Community Ministry International Inc. (Kapa) before the Department of Justice (DOJ) for allegedly operating an investment scam.
The filing of criminal case against Kapa officials came more than a week after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the closure of Kapa, a non-stock and independent religious corporation accused of running an illegal multi-billion-peso investment scheme.
Named respondents were Kapa Ministry founder and president Joel Apolinario, trustee Margie Danao, and corporate secretary Reyna Apolinario.
The SEC also implicated Marisol Diaz, Adelfa Fernandico, Moises Mopia, Catherine Evangelista, and Rene Catubigan for supposedly "promoting the investment scam."
The state corporate regulator said Kapa and its officials perpetrated an investment scam that was in violation of Republic Act 8799 or the Securities Regulation Code.
"The Commission found Kapa to have enticed the public to donate at least P10,000 in exchange for a 30 percent monthly 'blessing or 'love gift' for life, without having to do anything other than invest and wait for the payout," it said in a statement released Tuesday.
On March 14, the SEC made permanent its cease-and-desist order to Kapa, after the latter was found to be soliciting investments from the public that is similar to a Ponzi scheme, an investment fraud that offers impossibly high financial returns and pays investors out of the capital contributed by new investors.
Kapa is reportedly enticing its members to "donate" P10,000 each, in exchange for returns of 30 percent per month for life.
On April 3, Kapa's certificate of incorporation was revoked by SEC for supposedly committing "serious misrepresentation on what it can do or is doing to the prejudice and damage of the public."
The SEC insisted that Kapa employed a Ponzi scheme, an act that "qualifies as a fraudulent transaction prohibited under Section 26.3 of the Securities Regulation Code."
Under Section 36.3 of the Securities Regulation Code, it is unlawful for a person to "engage in any act, transaction, practice or course of business which operates or would operate as a fraud or deceit upon any person."
"A person found to have violated the SRC, or the relevant rules and regulations promulgated by the SEC, will face a maximum fine of P5 million or imprisonment of seven to 21 years, or both," the SEC said.
The SEC said the penalty that should be imposed against the Kapa officials should be "one degree higher" than what is prescribed by the Securities Regulation Code, "considering the use of Facebook and Youtube in the illegal invest scheme."
Meanwhile, the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 7 is monitoring Kapa and Organico Agribusiness Ventures Inc. to check whether they continue to operate despite the cease and desist order from the SEC.
CIDG 7 Deputy Chief Lieutenant Colonel Hector Amancia said they are vigorously monitoring these firms but declined to elaborate how. But he added personnel were assigned to monitor these firms as they received reports that they are possibly operating in a cloak of secrecy after learning that they have stopped using social media in communicating with their members.
He said they will immediately report to the SEC should they get information that they are still operating or will operate again.
He also dismissed allegations they are monitoring the online transactions of Organico members, saying it is not their job nor the National Bureau of Investigation’s to hack social media accounts.
One of the members of Organico, who spoke with Superbalita Cebu on condition of anonymity, said their agents do not reach them via social media anymore because of the belief that authorities allegedly hack their accounts.
But Amancia denied this, saying, “it is not the job of the PNP, even the NBI, to hack their accounts.”
He said they don’t find it wrong if Organico and Kapa promise members the return of the money they have invested.
They also do not intend to arrest them as what was alleged by some members that they will conduct an entrapment operation.
He said it is the right of every member to get their money back.
“If they will return the money, well and good. At least the investors will have their peace of mind. But on our part, it doesn’t mean they (Kapa, Organico) will be absolved of their violations just because they returned the money,” Amancia said.
Earlier, Organico promised to return the investment of its members but without interest. (With AYB of SuperBalita Cebu, VLA)