THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning the public against investing in Billford Trading Co. and Bill Ford VIP Trading, Inc., which it found were violating the Securities Regulation Code.

In an advisory posted on its website Thursday, the country’s corporate regulator said the two companies are operating without the necessary registration and licenses to solicit investment.

“[T]he public is hereby advised to stop investing in the investment scheme being offered by the said entities and by Billy Ford Delos Santos Andrada,” it said.

The SEC said Billford Trading and Bill Ford VIP Trading are both operated by Mr. Andrada. It operates by offering the public to invest in pigs, where buying one pig for P2,500 is supposed to earn the investor P4,375 within three months.

The returns increase depending on the number of pigs a person invests in, such that by investing in five pigs worth P12,500, one is supposed to get P21,875 in exchange. Cashing in P100,000 for an investment in 40 pigs is equivalent to P175,000 in return.

“The public is hereby informed that Billford Trading Company and Bill Ford VIP Trading, Inc. are not authorized to solicit investments from the public as these entities did not secure prior registration and/or license to solicit investment…” the SEC said.

The Securities Regulation Code requires securities to be registered with the SEC before being sold to the public. Anyone buying or selling the securities must also be registered with the SEC.

The violation of the rules is equivalent to a fine of P5 million at most or imprisonment of 21 years, or both, for those who acted as salesmen, brokers, dealers or agents for the concerned companies.

“[T]he names of all those involved will be reported to the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) so that the appropriate penalties and/or taxes be correspondingly assessed,” the SEC added. — Denise A. Valdez