April 20, 2024

Two Baguio-based firms and their affiliated entities have been ordered to stop operations for illegally soliciting investments from the public.

The Securities and Exchange Commission in a press release on June 12 reported its commission en banc issued a cease and desist order against Casa Infini Builders and Realty Co. Ltd., Ray Education Directions Consultancy Services, and its affiliated entities.

The order was served on June 10 by the SEC Enforcement and Investor Protection (EIPD) Department together with the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission, the Regional Anti-Cybercrime Unit Cordillera, and the Baguio City Police Office to Casa Infini while having an activity in a hotel at Legarda Road, Baguio City.

The joint operation led to the arrest of Jennylyn Galletes de los Santos Floresca who SEC stated was identified by the entities as a partner or incorporator; and 24 other agents, partners, and employees.

SEC said Ray Education, Casa Infini Realty Management Co. Ltd., and Ray International Philippines Corporation, doing business under the names Ray Education Directions Consultancy Services, Be Unrivaled Productions, and Sine Cordillera, and Casa Infini Properties and Development Corp. and its entities, have been soliciting investments from the public in the guise of real estate related investments and were ordered to stop offering and selling investments without the necessary license from the SEC.

The order also covers Floresca, Raffy Palangdan Floresca, Jovielyn Malonzo Mina, Jinky delos Santos Lontoc, Jacqueline Corel Melchor, Peter Omaweng Wasing, Eric M. Pineda, Jerick Bambi Sadernas, and Kenjie Millar; as well as all representatives, salesmen, solicitors, agents, uplines, enablers, and influencers acting on behalf of the groups.

SEC also ordered the groups to cease its Internet presence relating to their investment schemes and further prohibited from transacting any business involving funds in its depository banks, and from transferring, disposing, or conveying any related assets to ensure the preservation of the assets of the investors.

The order was issued after the SEC EIPD found the Casa Infini group and their officers and incorporators have been actively 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 their alleged real estate projects in Baguio City either as a buyer-investor or partner financier.

Investments collected from buyer-investors will supposedly finance the real properties claimed to be owned, managed, and operated by the Casa Infini group.

Through the projects’ value appreciation, investors were promised a guaranteed income of more than P33,000 per month for 20 months.

Investors can become partner-financiers by entering into real estate development plans or programs, where they will be required to invest P300,000 to P10 million, in exchange for guaranteed passive income ranging from three to 4.8 percent in a span of eight to 20 months, or as stipulated in the contract.

SEC added the terms and conditions employed by the groups have the characteristics of a Ponzi scheme, as they promise exorbitant returns with little or no risk to investors.

SEC reported its EIPD found the groups have so far persuaded more than 600 investors to participate in their schemes.

Casa Infini Builders and Realty and Casa Infini Realty Management are duly registered partnerships with the SEC, while Ray International Philippines and Casa Infini Properties and Development are registered corporations; and Ray Education is a sole proprietorship registered with the Department of Trade and Industry.

However, SEC said the groups were not issued a license authorizing them to offer or sell investments to the public.

Further, its common partner/incorporator, Jennylyn de los Santos, is allegedly the wife of a Raffy Floresca, who is the subject of another cease and desist order issued by the SEC last March 16 for being part of an unauthorized investment scheme conducted by the Horizon Players Club.

The investment schemes of the entities involve the sale and offer of securities to the public in the form of investment contracts, where a person invests his money in a common enterprise and is led to expect profits primarily from the efforts of others, according to the SEC.

Section 8 of Republic Act 8799 or The Securities Regulation Code provides securities shall not be sold or offered for sale or distribution within the Philippines without a registration statement duly filed with and approved by the SEC.

The promise or offer of profits or returns which are sourced from the investments made by investors themselves, as well as the offering or selling of investment schemes to the public without a license or permit from the Commission amount to investment fraud pursuant to RA 11765 or the Financial Products and Services Consumer Protection Act.

“The groups’ unauthorized investment-taking activities warrant the prompt issuance of a cease and desist order as it operates as a fraud to the public which, if unrestrained, will likely cause grave or irreparable injury or prejudice to the investing public,” the order reads. – Hanna C. Lacsamana