THE Quezon City Regional Trial Court has found officers and members of an export firm guilty of duping almost 4,000 policemen and soldiers of over P3 billion in a so-called “Ponzi scheme” investment scam.
After 16 years of trial, the QCRTC Branch 220 found Emilia Sison, Ireneo Sison Jr., Mirasol Aguilar and Marilo Cabalo, guilty of 23 counts of estafa and sentenced them to a maximum prison term of 16 years for each count.
However, the court acquitted former Police Supt. Ricardo Sison, William Sison, Lorna Bosque, Vilma Benitez and Elizabeth Cervera for lack of sufficient evidence.
The court said the case should have been a syndicated estafa instead of simple estafa had one of the accused, Mimosa Zamudio, not died during trial.
Furthermore, the court found principal accused Emilia Sison guilty in a separate case of violation of Republic Act No. 8799 (Securities Regulation Act), sentencing her to another prison term of 10 years.
Court records showed that the accused were officers and members of the ICS Export Inc., which collected almost P3 billion from 4,000 victims, mostly officers of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the early 2000s.
The court found that ICS Inc. was formed to engage in trading and exporting goods such as garden decor, agricultural products, leather, fashion accessories and food supplement - but had no authority to solicit investments from the public.
The accused were charged with luring their victims with promises of eight to 15 percent return on their money for a minimum investment of P50,000.
As a guarantee, the company issued post-dated checks in the form of a monthly interest to each stakeholder. But all the checks that the company released later on bounced for lack of funds.
“The strategy used by the accused using the corporation was akin to the so-called Ponzi scheme,” the court said. “This is a story of people wanting quick wealth on one side, and people robbing off that wealth, on the other side.”
The court ordered the immediate release of those acquitted. They had been detained for over 16 years since the trial started in 2002.