Hospital investors’ cry: Give us shareholder rights

SOME investors of a medical center being constructed in Cebu City have come out to complain against the management for not giving them rights as shareholders of the facility.

Lawyer Mark Gaviola, one of the lawyers of five shareholders who had filed two separate civil cases against Allied Care Experts (ACE) Medical Center Inc.-Cebu, said his clients feared that they had become victims of an “investment scam” after finding out that similar set-ups had been done in at least 23 other ACE medical centers in other parts of the country.

These medical centers have interlocking founder owners, directors and officers.

“These interlocking founders and /or directors and officers used the same scheme to attract the public. To entice the public to invest, if the prospective investor is a medical doctor, the come on attraction is to allow them to practice in the same hospital in addition to medical benefits,” Gaviola said in a press briefing on Thursday.

For other non-doctor investors, medical benefits for shareholders include a 50 percent discount on board and lodging, 25 percent discount on X-rays and CT scans, among others.

Similar benefits are also given to dependents and parents of these shareholders.

‘Not true’

“These promises turned out to be not true, constituting misrepresentation to the investing public,” Gaviola said.

He said that as of August 2017, ACE Cebu has sold 1,771 shares to investors at P200,000 each or a total of P354.2 million, and P300 million of which was already paid and deposited by the shareholders to the corporation.

Gaviola also said that in June 2015 when ACE Cebu started selling their shares of stocks, they did not have a secondary license to make the sale to the public, which is required by the Securities Regulations Code.

He also questioned the sustainability of the hospital once it operates considering that they have more than a thousand shareholders who will be getting all sorts of discounts from the 200-bed medical facility.

Allegations belied

However, when sought for comment, ACE Cebu’s legal counsel Joseph Baduel belied the allegations of Gaviola that their promises to their shareholders are false.

In fact, he said that construction of the medical facility is already at 80 to 90 percent done.

“ACE Cebu is intending to open by June, July or August this year. They already ordered the medical equipment worth more than P300 million,” Baduel told Cebu Daily News.

Another P300 million was also spent by the corporation for the building of the hospital itself.

Baduel said the facility will be eight storeys-high with a helipad on top of it.

It will also have an additional three-level basement.

When sought for comment on the cases filed against them, Baduel said they would just leave it to the court to decide, adding that they had already submitted their formal replies and answers to the court.

When sought for comment, a source at the SEC, who asked to not be identified because the source had no authority to speak on behalf of the commission, said that for the SEC to look into the ACE Hospital situation, there should first be a sworn complaint filed at the commission.

Criminal complaint

Although the current two complaints they are handling now are civil complaints, Gaviola said they are also looking into the possibility of filing a separate criminal case against ACE Cebu regarding their concern.

He said they are still trying to talk to and look for more of those investors that have already paid ACE Cebu in order to strengthen their case.

In the two civil cases pending before the Regional Trial Court, the shareholders asked the court to compel ACE Cebu to recognize them as legitimate shareholders and give their preemptive rights.

They also want ACE Cebu to pay for their litigation and attorney’s fees in the course of the case. /Reporter