Atty. Emilio Aquino (third from right) and Renato Duenas Jr. (fifth from left) with the guests at the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai. John Varughese / Gulf Today
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
Visiting Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chairperson Atty. Emilio Aquino has warned Filipinos about thoughtless or careless engagements in investment opportunities. He pointed out that prudence and consultations with authorities shall prevent them from falling prey into scams that would also put a stop to the pervasiveness of the crime.
Aquino headed the delegation of the two-day “SEC Seminar on Investor Protection and Responsible Borrowing” held at the Off-The-Hook restaurant in Deira, Dubai on Thursday evening and at the Philippine Consulate General in Al Qusais, Dubai (PCGDXB) on Friday afternoon. SEC-Corporate Governance and Finance director Atty.
Rachel Esther Gumtang-Remalante briefly lectured on “Responsible Borrowing: Dos and Don’ts” such as never to get excited over “too good to be true” deals that run through one’s social media news feeds and mobile phone messages, and the “zero interest rate” offers available only within a few minutes.
She cautioned on the quick responses to the attractive loan apps that lead one to “another and another” for the tumultuous debt trap. SEC-Investor Protection & Surveillance Department assistant director Atty. Oliver Leonardo digitally presented “How to Spot an Investment Scam” that dug on the “illegal” multi-level networking scheme, Ponzi style, as well as the crypto-currencies and bitcoin deceptions.
Established in 1936 through the Securities Act when the Philippines was still a USA colony, SEC, an agency of the Philippines’ Department of Finance, is responsible for regulating the country’s securities industry and among other major tasks, supervises all registered businesses as it has the power to investigate and impose sanctions on proven violators.
In his opening remarks on Friday, Consul General in Dubai and the Northern Emirates Renato Duenas Jr. acknowledged the collaboration of SEC with the Dubai-based Gulf Law: “(This) investment protection initiative is relevant. We have experts from our government who would tell us how to invest our hard-earned money and savings.”
The open forum became a revelation of investment scams. A male guest investment scam victim-turned-financial literacy advocate partner of the PCGDXB and the Philippine Trade Investment Centre-Dubai (PTICDXB) mentioned of a scammer from Metro Manila who managed to come over to the UAE “to recruit more victims.”
Unfortunately for this scammer who set up a business cover-up and who aimed to be a member of the Philippine Business Council in Dubai and the Northern Emirates, he was found out by “kababayans” (countrymen). From the sidelines, a SEC official said this investment scammer is indeed one.
A school owner lamented that several of her faculty members and even parents have been swindled to a maximum of Dhs100,000.00. A PCGDXB staff volunteered on the mounting number of varied investment scams complaints.
Over the question on what forms of scam the SEC has discovered and acted upon in recent years, and which overseas Filipinos must guard upon, Aquino said: Crypto-currencies can be beneficial like less remittance charges. There are individuals though who misuse these; particularly the bitcoin. Let us help one another in preventing the spread of scams. You are (primary victims) because of your money. Report to us. Check with SEC.”
Aquino pointed out that outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte had signed into law the “Financial Products and Services Consumer Protection Act.” The SunStar Manila May 6 issue reports “the law defines investment fraud as a form of deceptive solicitation of investments from the public, which includes Ponzi schemes and other forms of scheme involving the promise of offer of profits or returns that are sourced from investments or contributions made by the financial consumers, boiling rooms operations and the offering of selling of investment without a licence or permit from the (SEC).”
The guilty shall be jailed for up to five years or fined for between Php50,000.00 (Dhs3,515.34) and Php2 million (Dhs140,613.48), “or both.”