SEC secures P100M in Kapa assets

|June 16,2019 - 09:33 AM

MANILA, Philippines — The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said it had “secured” over P100 million in assets from the Kapa Community Ministry International Inc., whose founder and pastor Joel Apolinario was accused of engineering a massive Ponzi scheme.

In a statement on Saturday, the SEC said the seizure followed an asset freeze order issued by the Court of Appeals on June 4.

The SEC said it believes millions of Filipinos were lured to invest in the fraudulent scheme, which allegedly disguised investment-taking activities as a religious exercise.

“Several banks have initially frozen more than P100 million pursuant to the freeze order,” the SEC said. It added that the order covered insurance policies, cryptocurrency holdings and other assets linked to Kapa.

“We cannot simply wait for the fraudulent investment scheme to crumble and for the investors to suffer before we take action,” SEC chair Emilio Aquino said in the statement.

‘Con artist’

Last week, Aquino said they would file criminal charges against officers of the Surigao del Sur-based organization. Kapa has drawn the ire of no less than President Rodrigo Duterte, who called for the arrest of its executives, including Apolinario whom he described as a “con artist.”

The SEC said it obtained the freeze order through the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC).

It noted that unlawful activities covered by the anti-money laundering law are fraudulent practices and other violations under Republic Act No. 8799, or the Securities Regulation Code.

The AMLC is also empowered to move for the forfeiture of any assets related to illegal activities. The forfeited assets may then be distributed to affected investors, the SEC said.

“The commission will pursue more assets sourced from the investment scam perpetrated by Kapa,” the SEC said.

“Public records show [that] at least nine luxury cars and sports utility vehicles, along with a helicopter, are registered under the name of Kapa and its officers. Kapa also claims to have acquired a hospital, a school and other properties,” it added.

Undercover teams from the SEC discovered that Kapa “recruited and encouraged members to  donate at least P10,000 in exchange for a 30-percent monthly return on investment for life.”

“Such scheme constituted the sale and offering of securities, in the form of investment contracts,” the SEC added.

Based on Kapa’s own claims that it has over five million members, the SEC said this translated to at least P50 billion generated from the scam.

“Kapa violated the law and must now face the consequences of its actions,” Aquino said.

The SEC issued an advisory against Kapa as early as March 2017. It would later issue a cease-and-desist order on Feb. 14 this year and an order of revocation of the nonstock corporation’s registration on April 3.

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