SEC: Organico fails again to submit counter-affidavit

THE Organico Agribusiness Ventures Corp. (Organico) failed to submit its counter-affidavit during the second preliminary investigation before the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Manila on Monday, Dec. 16, 2019.

This was revealed by lawyer Oliver Leonardo, assistant director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Enforcement and Investor Protection Department.

Leonardo said a new legal counsel represented Organico on Monday, and the latter asked for more time to prepare the company’s defense.

The SEC had issued a cease and desist order against Organico. It had also revoked the firm’s license.

Leonardo said the third preliminary investigation is set to happen on Jan. 23, 2020.

He said if Organico fails again to submit its counter-affidavit, it would mean that it is waiving its right to be heard.

A preliminary investigation is “an inquiry or proceeding to determine whether there is sufficient ground to get a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and the respondent is probably guilty thereof, and should be held for trial.”

Organico’s original counsel did not show up during the first scheduled preliminary investigation early this year, according to SEC security specialist Lester Bautista.

The SEC, in its May 21, 2018 advisory, said Organico is “engaged in soliciting investment wherein an investor must invest in at least 10 shares, with one share costing P1,800. For every share, an investor gets P450 every 15 days or a total of P2,700 in three months.”

Organico voluntarily closed its branch at Copenhagen East Building on A.C. Cortes Ave. in Barangay Cambaro, Mandaue City on June 10, 2019.

Three months later, on Sept. 10, the SEC lodged criminal complaints against Organico and its officers before the DOJ for violation of Republic Act 8799, or the Securities Regulation Code.

Last Oct. 24, eight investors went to the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) 7 office to file complaints against Organico. They had poured in more than P1 million in Organico for the purchase of hogs before they learned that the firm’s activities were a fraud.

A few weeks later, another group of investors complained before the CIDG 7 that Organico failed to return the money they had invested in September 2019.

Leonardo, in an earlier interview, said there is no legal obstacle for Organico to release payouts to its investors.

The SEC, he said, is still accepting complaints to strengthen its case against Organico. (WBS)