Quick action
#INTRIGA PA MORE - Mary Ann Ll. Reyes (The Philippine Star) - November 30, 2016 - 12:00am

Only a relentless effort on the part of the victims, and quick action on the part of Singaporean authorities, foiled a recent cybertheft attempt on one of our business personalities.

As can be gleamed from a report filed with the Singapore police last Nov. 11 by Melesa Chua, chief executive officer of CDC Holdings, a Philippine-based company, last June 13, one of their subsidiaries, CDC Realty, bought some equipment from Indentrade Systems Corp., the Philippine representative of Singaporean firm AKSA Far East Pte. Ltd.

On July 7, they made a 30 percent downpayment directly with AKSA via telegraphic transfer to DBS Bank and the beneficiary stated was AKSA. Indentrade, on behalf of AKSA, confirmed with CDC that the downpayment had been received.

On Oct. 6, Chua received an e-mail from one Arthur de Castro of Indentrade, asking CDC to pay the remaining 70 percent of the purchase price amounting to $71,400 to a different beneficiary – Purplerich International Pte Ltd. also a Singaporean company – through Citibank Singapore Ltd.

Chua told the Singapore police in her report that on Oct. 26, De Castro and a certain Rei Flores came to her office in the Philippines and told her that someone hacked into their e-mail account and sent Chua the e-mail for payment to Purplerich. They also claimed that AKSA did not receive the 70 percent balance payment.

Chua said they tried to get the money back from Purplerich but the latter refused to refund the money.

On Nov. 4, Chua wrote Citibank Singapore to inform the bank that a police report has been filed against their client Purplerich and to ask the bank for cooperation in recovering what had been remitted through the bank.

On Nov. 10, the Singapore police Force sent an email to Chua informing her that the bank account belonging to Purplerich had been frozen, that the amount of $71,400 had been put on hold, and that they have initiated investigation against the directors of Purplerich.

According to the Singapore police, they are working with Citibank Singapore to track the money trail which involves other victims.

CDC has also asked the local National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to look into the matter.

Chua tells us that what happened to her is not an isolated case and that there have been a number of victims here, but involving other suppliers who also lost money from the same modus operandi.

Melesa and her daughter’s quick action on the matter, which involved walking all over Singapore to alert authorities and to seek help, and the immediate response and action on the part of the Singapore police, allowed the Chuas to recover the money, which fortunately had not been withdrawn before the account was frozen. In fact, the Singapore police said they were among the lucky ones.

According to Elsie (Melesa), Singapore authorities were quick to act because they did not want to destroy Singapore’s reputation as a reliable world business and financial center.

Strong year for PCPPI

At a recent golf tournament they hosted for local media and their business partners, top officials of Pepsi Cola Products Philippines Inc. (PCPPI) expressed optimism 2016 would be another strong year for the company and 2017, even stronger.

PCPPI chief finance officer Imran Moid said their beverage business in the country, which includes Pepsi, Tropicana (Twister and Coco Quench), Lipton Ice Tea, Gatorade, Mirinda, Mountain Dew, Sting Energy Drink, Mug Root Beer, Lotte’s Milkis, Premier drinking water, 7-Up, has been gaining market share and that they have been growing in terms of volume, topline and bottomline.

Moid said they have been gaining market share even while their competition has been spending actively.

He said the third quarter of 2016 has been a strong quarter and that overall, this year has been a strong year, partly due to 2016 being an election year.

Moid said their snack food business here is also growing. PCPPI is now producing the Cheetos snack food brand for the Philippine market at their manufacturing facility in Cabuyao, Laguna.

According to the PCPPI executive, the small Cheetos packs are being sold at very affordable prices in order to reach the lower income segment of the Philippine market. The larger Cheetos packs being sold here are still imported, though.

He said there are plans to produce other brands, (including Lay’s (the small packs being sold here are made in Pakistan which is said to be the world’s largest snack food brand), here soon to take advantage of the growing opportunity.

PCPPI reported revenues of P27.33 billion in 2015, which is 7.93 percent more than the previous year. But net income last year stood flat at P810 million due to higher sugar prices and increased expenses when it diversified into snack foods.

The company said the creation of the snacks-and-beverage franchise operations in the Philippines reflected the group’s ongoing drive to ensure the integration of its food and beverage portfolio across multiple platforms, including manufacturing and go-to-market execution.

In the first quarter of 2016, gross sales revenue rose by 12 percent to P8.2 billion from year-ago level, but net income declined 17 percent to P159.3 million.

According to PCPPI chief executive officer Yongsang You, the company would focus on marketing its snack products under the Cheetos and Lays brands first, but they are also considering introducing other Pepsi product lines and some products coming from Lotte Korea.

South Korean beverage company Lotte Chilsung is the lead shareholder of PCPPI and co-manages PCPPI with multinational PepsiCo.

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