The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has asked the Department of Justice (DOJ) to indict the executives of One Lightning Corp., a direct selling and investment firm shut down for allegedly duping clients of P500 million.
In a complaint affidavit filed by SEC director Jose Aquino, the SEC enforcement and investor protection department (EIPD) said the same officials of One Lightning continued to publicly offer and sell investment contracts without permit by creating a new firm called FDS Forward Direct Selling Corp.
Charged for violation of Section 28 of the Securities Regulation Code were One Lightning president Terrence Kenji Ito and chairman Theodore Yuji Ito and incorporators Aldus Renier Tubiera, Joanary Roxas and Jake Ryu Oprecio.
They were reportedly young professionals, with ages ranging from 22 to 28.
The corporation was formed in Pasig in 2014 and initially sold health and beauty products and anti-cancer medicine. Prospective investors were recruited through networking.
“The scheme employed by the said corporation was clearly a Ponzi scheme which they tried to hide by making it appear as a multilevel networking company engaged in the marketing of cosmetic and health products,” it was pointed out.
A Ponzi scheme is a type of investment scam where profits come from investors, which means sustainability would depend on an increasing pool of investors.
Aquino said investors were enticed by the offer of respondents to pay 28 percent to 30 percent profit share income and return of investment after three months.
“In some cases, the products were not even delivered. The company was focused on recruiting more and more investors by offering referral fees, uni-level bonuses and maturity rewards,” he stressed.
Recently, the SEC issued a cease and desist order against the operations of One Lightning and filed a syndicated estafa case before a Pasig City regional trial court, which already issued warrants of arrest and hold departure orders against the respondents. This is in connection with their failure to return as much as P500 million from 100 investors.
The SEC-EIPD lodged a new case after the investors complained that they failed to get back their investments.
“Under the pretext of being a multilevel marketing company, the respondents offered huge returns to investors who would participate in their investment program through the purchase of certain cosmetic and health products,” the SEC said.