Palace advises KAPA investors to file class suit

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MALACAÑANG PALACE on Tuesday urged those who put in money to the Kapa-Community Ministry International, Inc. (KAPA) to file criminal and civil suits against the group to recover their investments.

“They should. They should in order to recover [their investments],” Mr. Panelo told reporters in an ambush interview when asked if the investors should file a class suit against individuals behind KAPA, which according to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been “running a scam.”

Mr. Panelo added, “And so that you will put behind bars those people who have been swindling them.”

KAPA, a non-stock and independent religious corporation, collects money from members with a promise of very high return rates.

The SEC said the scheme in which KAPA operates is unsustainable as it may run out of investors and fail to pay its members. The group is said to be soliciting investments of P10,000 to P20,000 for monthly returns of 30%.

Mr. Panelo also noted that it is “strange” that many investors remain very supportive of the SEC-registered group despite the order from President Rodrigo R. Duterte to close it down because it is “fraud.”

Ang…supportive ‘yung mga nakakuha na ng pera, ‘yung mga nauna (Those who are supportive are those who joined first, those who received money). They were able to get that. Hindi nila alam (They don’t know) that was a trap,” he said.

In a press briefing, the spokesman said the government will also run after other investment scams in Mindanao.

Kapag nalaman nating mayroong mga ganiyan, ‘di dapat talagang ipasarado (Once we find out there are other such scams, it should really be closed) because it’s a continuing crimes of estafa,” he said.

Asked if filing charges is the only way for investors to recover their money, he said: “Yes, they will have to file criminal and civil suits.”

The SEC announced on Monday that it has obtained a freeze order on several bank accounts and assets of KAPA.

In 2017, SEC found KAPA to be soliciting investments from the public even if it does not have a secondary license to conduct such.

SEC issued a cease and desist order against KAPA last Feb. 14, but it still continued its operation. Its certificate of registration was revoked by the commission last April.

Meanwhile, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said it is preparing the appropriate complaints against the founder and officers of KAPA for violation of the Securities Regulation Code.

In a press conference Tuesday, lawyer Antonio M. Pagatpat, deputy director for Regional Operation Service, said they conducted simultaneous operations for 14 search warrants, 13 of which were in various KAPA offices, including the residence of its founder, Joel A. Apolinario.

He said the search warrants were issued by Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 20 for the violations of sections 8 (Requirement of Registration of Securities) and 26 (Fraudulent Transactions) of the Securities Regulation Code.

Mr. Pagatpat said while there was no one arrested and all the offices reached by the NBI teams were non-operational and closed, they were able to seize “some vital evidence.”

“In the course of the service of the search warrants, our teams were able to seize or recover various documents, records, books, equipment, all proving that indeed KAPA was violating the Securities Regulation Code. And so this time, we are preparing the appropriate complaints against the founder and the other officers of KAPA,” he said.

Mr. Pagatpat also said that reports from their agents showed the organization was not conducting any religious activity.

The NBI is also looking into the possibility of filing charges of large-scale estafa. — Arjay L. Balinbin and Vann Marlo M. Villegas