DOJ proceeds with probe on new Aman cases

Edu Punay - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Justice (DOJ) has proceeded with the preliminary investigation of Manuel Amalilio despite his imprisonment for two years in Malaysia.

Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co did not appear at the DOJ, but his lawyers represented him at the preliminary investigation.

The panel gave Co until Feb. 13 to submit a counter-affidavit to answer the charges against him.

Other executives of Aman Futures Group Phils. Inc. are already in the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Fernando Luna, Leila Lim Gan, Eduard Lim, Willanie Fuentes, Naezelle Rodriguez and Lurix Lopez have applied to become state witnesses.

Their arraignment was also stalled due to Luna’s pending motion in the Regional Trial Court for their custody to be transferred to the NBI in Manila instead of the Pagadian City Jail as required in the arrest warrant.

In yesterday’s preliminary investigation, Aman finance manager Ma. Donna Coyme formally applied to become a state witness.

She denied direct involvement in the Ponzi scheme.

“I was just a tutor of his (Fernando Luna’s) children, that’s why I see them everyday,” she said.

NBI Director Nonnatus Caesar Rojas said yesterday they are continuing efforts to get Amalilio back to the Philippines.

“We will have to verify really what happened because we also want to have a copy of the decision and see what we can do under the circumstances,” he said.

“But insofar as discussions, government-to-government negotiations and processes, other agencies or departments will of course be responsible. But I’m not really privy to what actions or steps have already been taken by the other departments.”

Rojas said the NBI is trying to get documents on Amalilio’s conviction on passport violations and imprisonment for two years in Malaysia.

“Because this is rather a sensitive thing also, because this involves country-to-country negotiations or discussions. We also leave that to the DOJ and DFA (Departmentof Foreign Affairs),” he said.

Rojas said the NBI wants Amalilio back in the Philippines.

“That’s why we have basis to claim that he is a Filipino, we went all out so that we could bring him here,” he said.

Sources at the NBI said they are still waiting for instructions from the Anti-Money Laundering Council before seizing the assets of Amalilio.

“It should be the AMLC who would act on this, or request for assistance for us to seize the assets,” said the source.

“We have a listing of the assets, but these are not documented yet and need to be verified.

“They (AMLC) could actually seize these assets. But we are awaiting other instructions as of the moment.”

The source said the NBI has already identified a lot of these assets and where they could be found.

Among Amalilio’s assets in the Philippines are luxury cars like Lamborghinis and Maseratis, two helicopters, six airplanes, six Range Rovers, real properties including two condominiums in McKinley Hill, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, and real properties in Pagadian.

Escudero appeals

Sen. Francis Escudero urged government agencies and state prosecutors yesterday to “take an extra mile” in going after Amalilio.

The chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights said the government should engage the Malaysian government for the speedy repatriation of the alleged mastermind of a scheme that defrauded Filipinos of an estimated P12 billion.

“My main worry is that Amalilio’s con job wouldn’t be the last in the country,” he said.

“It is a puzzle why all the tell-tale signs were ignored by the Anti-Money Laundering Council (such as) bank transactions and activities by the Aman group and other related companies, including a warning issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission.”

Amalilio has been sentenced to two years in prison in Malaysia.

In a statement, Escudero said diplomatic brinkmanship should be exercised in persuading Malaysian authorities to turn over Amalilio.

“The government should coordinate with the diplomatic and consular office in Malaysia, where we have a good representative in Ambassador Ed Malaya,” he said.

“I expect Ambassador Malaya, who has a long experience as a diplomat, to resolve the catch-22 involving Amalilio. With the network of friends he has in the Malaysian government, I don’t see why the problem should not be resolved.” – With Sandy Araneta, Christina Mendez    


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