SEC stops Unity Premier’s illegal investment scheme
The Securities and Exchange Commission has ordered Unity Premier Business Group OPC to stop illegally soliciting investments from the public through its supposed beauty product business.
In an order dated Aug. 16, the Commission en banc directed the company, which also operates under the name Unity Premier Beauty and Wellness Products Trading, to immediately cease and desist from engaging in the unlawful or unauthorized solicitation, offer, and/or sale of securities in the form of investment contracts without the necessary license from the SEC.
The order also covers Unity Premier’s chief executive officer and sole stockholder Minerva Aganan Lorilla, nominee and treasurer Renalyn A. Lorilla, and alternate nominee Leonilda L. Bandojo, as well as its operators, promoters, representatives, salesmen, agents, uplines, enablers, influencers, conduits, subsidiaries, and affiliates.
The company and its officers have likewise been ordered to cease their Internet presence relating to their investment scheme. They were 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 Commission issued the order after the SEC Enforcement and Investor Protection Department (EIPD) found that Unity Premier has been touting itself as a financial institution that can provide its members the opportunity to start their own e-commerce and affiliate platform and beauty product business.
Unity Premier was found to be offering investment packages worth P100 to P50,000 each, with promised returns ranging from P3.50 to P1,750 daily. Investors only needed to create an account through Unity Premier’s website and pay for the investment package of their choice.
Investors were also promised a 15 percent commission when they recruit more people into the system.
The scheme involves the sale and offer of securities to the public in the form of investment contracts, whereby 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 that 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.
“At the outset, the Commission notes that contrary to the primary purpose of Unity Premier of direct selling beauty products, there is no information or evidence showing what products are for sale, product description, prices per product as well as where the products are being sold,” the Commission en banc held.
“What is evident in Unity Premier’s advertisements is the focus on the sale and/or offer for sale of various investment packages with an insignificant inclusion of soap products.”
In its investigation, the EIPD also found that Unity Premier has been consciously misrepresenting itself to have acquired a secondary license from the Commission, supposedly reinvesting money from its investors in the stock market, foreign exchange market, and cryptocurrency trading.
While Unity Premier is a duly registered corporation with the Commission, it has never secured a secondary license as issuer of securities or broker dealer nor registered any securities for public offering pursuant to the SRC.
“It is clear from the facts and evidence presented that Unity Premier business model which promises high return of investments as high as 200 percent guaranteed return on investment is not sustainable, and can only be carried out as long as new investors continue to come in,” the order read.
“This is a fraudulent scheme which will likely cause grave or irreparable injury or prejudice to the investing public.” – Press release