September 30, 2023
ABSOLVED — Casa Infini Builders & Realty Co. Chief Executive Officer Jenelyn Floresca (with mic) announced that the charges filed against her and 23 others by the Securities and Exchange Commission have been dismissed for lack of evidence by the Baguio City Prosecutors Office. Also in panel are lawyers Benny Bomogao, Dante Bagsan, and Kimberly Joy Chilagan, who also defended their clients from allegations of selling unregistered securities to individuals. — Harley Palangchao

The Baguio City Prosecutor’s Office has dismissed for insufficient evidence the charges for alleged violation of the Securities Regulation Code (SRC) and Cybercrime Prevention Act against the chief executive officer of Casa Infini Builders & Realty Co. and 23 other respondents.

In a 55-page resolution penned by Arlene Valerie Cacho-Spadaro on July 19, it stated that “mere allegations are not evidence and not equivalent to proof.”

The respondents, Casa Infini CEO Jenelyn Floresca and 23 others, were arrested on June 10 by government agents led by SEC while conducting a seminar inside a hotel in Baguio City.

Earlier, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has filed charges against the respondents for violation of Sections 8, 26, and 28 of the SRC and Sec. 3 of the Financial Products and Services Consumers Protection Act of 2022 in relation to Sec. 6 of the Cybercrime Prevention Act.

In its June 12 press statement, the SEC en banc also announced it issued a cease and desist order against Casa Infini Builders and Realty Co. Ltd., Ray Education Directions Consultancy Services, and its affiliated entities.

The CDO was issued after the SEC Enforcement and Investor Protection (EIPD) found Casa Infini group, its officers and incorporators have been offering or selling unregistered securities in the form of investment contracts to the public.

SEC said the groups were found to have enticed the public to invest in real estate projects in Baguio City either as a buyer-investor or partner financier.

But the City Prosecutor’s resolution said the complainants failed to allege who in all the named corporations and who among the persons belonging to the named corporations are responsible for registering securities which are to be sold or offered for sale or distribution within the Philippines.

The complainants also did not explain who among the respondents should be liable in case of failure to register securities and why said person should be held respondents.

The investigating prosecutor also stated the filing of charges is premature considering that there is no final determination that investment schemes offered by the respondents are considered securities. This was in relation to the issuance of CDO by SEC, which the respondents said they may question and to file a motion to lift the CDO.

The investigating prosecutor also found the evidence presented is insufficient to charge the respondents for violation of the SRC and the Financial Products and Services Consumer Protection Act of 2022.

The respondents also said the complainants have failed to present evidence there was fraud or deceit committed against any person, including the 23 employees of the corporation, who were arrested during an entrapment operation on June 10. None of those in attendance during the seminar claimed that Casa Infini was either selling securities or being defrauded.

The Villaraza & Angangco Law Office added in a statement it has already filed a request for the SEC to lift the CDO where it was given a chance for the first time to explain Casa Infini’s business and show that everything is above board.

Also present during Friday’s press conference were lawyers Dante Bagsan, Benny Bomogao, and Kimberly Joy Chilagan, who are among the legal counsels of the concerned corporations.

Bomogao said his clients, along with those who attended the June 10 seminar, were illegally arrested without sufficient evidence they are supposedly committing a crime.

“The arrest was unlawful, including the seizure of gadgets and some amounts,” Bomogao said in the press conference. – Harley F. Palangchao