NBI summons local head of forex firm

NBI summons local head of forex firm
By Tina Santos
Inquirer
Last updated 10:40pm (Mla time) 07/25/2007

MANILA, Philippines — The National Bureau of Investigation has summoned one of the Filipino incorporators of the Performance Investment Products Corp. (PIPC), a foreign exchange trading firm whose Singaporean owner has disappeared with at least $250 million of investors’ money.

 

Oscar Embido, assistant regional director and chief of the NBI antiorganized crime division, said a subpoena had been issued on Tuesday to Cristina Gonzalez-Tuason, the Filipino general manager of PIPC.

 

“We want to confront her regarding the allegations of several investors that she was the one who entertained, enticed and encouraged them to invest money in the company,” Embido told reporters.

 

He said the subpoena was sent to the PIPC office at Citibank Towers in Makati. He expects Tuason to appear before the NBI on July 31.

 

“But it’s also possible that she will just send her lawyer,” Embido said.

 

Meanwhile, the group of investors that was expected Wednesday to file a class suit against the incorporators of the firm, particularly Tuason and Michael H.K. Liew, the Singaporean owner of PIPC, have decided to postpone the filing.

 

Lawyer John John Felipe, counsel for at least five PIPC investors who intended to file “large-scale syndicated estafa against Tuason and Liew, said they were still talking with other investors and putting together the necessary documents.

 

Embido explained that a complaint from only five people cannot be considered a class suit.

 

“There has to be at least 50 complainants for it to be called a class suit. But through media, other victims may be enticed to come out in the open and file charges,” he said.

 

“We will treat [each case] as an individual complaint, a separate transaction,” he said.

 

The PIPC case first came to light when Tuason wrote the NBI on July 19, seeking help from the Interpol in tracing the whereabouts of Liew, the owner of the PIPC in the British Virgin Islands (Performance Investment, BVI).

 

Liew is also the president of PIPC, the local subsidiary of Performance Investment, BVI.

 

In her letter, Tuason said Liew had “unlawfully taken the money” of Performance Investment “to the grave prejudice of its investors,” including herself.

 

Earlier last week, the firms’ investors were told that Liew had absconded with their money and that the bank accounts which held their investments had been emptied and closed.

 

Some investors who came to the NBI, however, believe that Tuason was also liable because she was the firm’s local incorporator and that she herself had recruited others to invest in the PIPC.

 

Meanwhile, a text message which reportedly came from Tuason has been circulating among investors. It read:

 

“Hi_________, PIPC has just engaged the services of Ferrier Hodgson Limited an international forensics agency who specializes in forensic accounting, financial investigation and fraud services to locate Michael Liew, our funds and see if there is enough grounds to pursue ABN Amro. You can check their website www.fh.com.hk. They will be presenting to clients on Thursday, I will text you the details of the meeting. The management has also put up a website to address matters of this situation. Try to log on at www.findmichaelliew.com

 

The Dutch-based ABN Amro was one of the foreign banks in which PIPC investors maintained accounts to which PIPC remitted their profits and dividends.

 

An investor, who refused to be named, said that the website and text message were created by Tuason to pacify irate investors.

 

“There is a scheduled investors’ meeting at their Makati office on Thursday [today] but I’m not certain if the gathering will push through after the scam was exposed,” said another investor, a businessman in his 30s.

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