THE SECURITIES and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that the Batangas Regional Trial Court sentenced seven officers of One Dream Global Marketing, Inc. who were involved in alleged investment scams.

The court ordered the seven to pay fines totaling P2.8 million and serve up to 20 years of jail time each, as stated in the SEC press release on Tuesday.

The SEC cited a decision dated July 14 by the Batangas City Regional Trial Court Branch 2, which found officers of the Lipa, Batangas-based One Dream guilty of violating Sections 26.1 and 28.1 of the Securities Regulation Code (SRC).

It identified them as Arnel Gacer, Jobelle De Guzman, Judith Itoh, Marlon De Guzman, Louie De Guzman, Belinda De Guzman, and Jun De Guzman.

Section 26.1 provides that it is unlawful for any person, directly or indirectly, in connection with the purchase or sale of any securities to employ any device, scheme, or artifice to defraud.

Section 28.1 says no person should engage in the business of buying or selling securities in the Philippines as a broker or dealer, or act as a salesman, or an associated person of any broker or dealer unless registered as such with the commission.

The commission also said that the court issued an alias warrant of arrest against some of the accused who remain at large.

The cases are said to stem from complaints filed by nine investors against One Dream for syndicated estafa with the Department of Justice on July 21, 2015, while two other investors filed complaints against the group with the SEC Enforcement and Investor Protection Department on Aug. 3, 2015.

“The complainant-investors accused the officers of One Dream of offering investments worth P888, with the promise of a P1,300 payout after four days, excluding a 10% tax. Investors were allowed to pay for up to 31 slots, or a total of P27,528, in exchange for P39,022.80 after four days. The group also supposedly promised freebies and a commission of P44 for every referral,” the SEC said. 

It was said that the court ruled that it was “undisputed” that the accused solicited investments from the public, enticing investors with the promised profit of 46.4% every four days, plus P44 for every referral.

“The investment scheme employed falls within the definition of ‘securities’ under the SRC and that the same constitutes a ‘fraudulent transaction’ under Section 26 of the same law because it involves the purchase and sale of securities by the use of a scheme that is intended to defraud the investing public which is prohibited by Section 26,” the court held.

The court added: “It also turned out that One Dream had in fact no financial capacity to repay the loans as it had an authorized capital stock of only P1,000,000.00 and paid-up capital of only P100,000.00. Clearly the representations regarding its supposed financial capacity to meet its obligations to the private complainants were simply false.”

The conviction of One Dream is the second one secured by the SEC. The first guilty verdict was promulgated in the case against RJF Construction and Development Corp. on Nov. 27, 2020.

In 2022, the SEC has issued more than 60 advisories against groups and individuals for soliciting investments without the necessary license.

It also issued cease-and-desist orders and revocation orders against entities engaging in fraudulent investment schemes.

The commission is actively prosecuting 375 individuals in 56 cases for violations of the SRC, and in three cases for violations of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. — Justine Irish DP. Tabile