Filtered By: News

DoJ drops estafa case vs GoldQuest executives

The Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday sought to withdraw from the regional trial court the charge of syndicated estafa against a Malaysian businessman and his four partners including three Filipinos behind the multi-billion dollar GoldQuest investment scheme. The move taken by City Prosecutor Jennifer Cabanban-Ong followed a Jakarta court’s dismissal of the extradition request from the National Bureau of Investigation for Malaysian businessman Vijayeswaran Vijayaratnam and his Filipino partners Tagumpay Pablo Perez Kintanar, Joseph Luis Eleuterio Tomacruz Bismark, Donna Marie Glenn Imson, and Kurt Georg Rocco Rinck, all directors of GoldQuest International Limited. They were charged before the Quezon City regional trial court on March 20, 2006 for syndicated estafa, a non-bailable offense, on the basis of a criminal complaint filed by Enrico Noel Uy and Patrick Zuniga. Uy and Zuniga claimed the accused solicited from each of them the amount of $50,625.00 in 1998 on the promise that they would be issued shares of a company to be incorporated and eventually called GoldQuest International Ltd. (GQI) and that after six months, their investment in GQI would earn $10,000 per month. Quezon City RTC- Branch 219 Presiding Judge Bayani Vargas was supposed to begin trial of the case until the respondents raised the issue to the Court of Appeals, seeking to stop the trial. After the CA decided in favor of the complainants, the GoldQuest executives elevated the issue to the Supreme Court. The petition to reverse the CA ruling is still pending. Prosecutor Ong forwarded the motion to withdraw to the RTC following the dismissal of the Department of Justice of an appeal, saying the prosecution erred in its resolution dated February 3, 2006 finding probable cause to indict the GoldQuest executives. In the DOJ resolution signed by Secretary Raul Gonzalez, it ruled that there was no probable cause at all against respondents for syndicated estafa or even estafa. The DOJ’s resolution was based on the request of Generosa Kintanar for an objective assessment of the case in order to prevent a miscarriage of justice. The DOJ granted the request of Kintanar on July 18, 2007 and conducted an exhaustive automatic review of the case and evaluated judiciously the evidence on record pursuant to Rule 112 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, which authorizes the DOJ secretary to reverse or modify the resolution of a city prosecutor. In the counter-affidavits submitted to the DOJ, the respondents claimed that it was Jose Fabregas who met with the complainants and obtained a loan intended to facilitate the issuance and execution of a global marketing agreement with an American Corporation called “Wings of Gold." The respondents asserted that they were never present during the meeting between Fabregas and complainants. They said the complainants even sat as members of the Board of Directors of V-Team International, a marketing arm of GoldQuest and received the total amount of US$760,200.89 as dividends, allowances, reimbursements, per diems and others during their tenure. In its resolution, the DOJ explained that the prosecutor’s office relied heavily on the Investment Report of Diversified Global Holdings, Ltd., as proof of the investment made by the complainants for GoldQuest. “Despite respondents’ objections to said Investment Report as being spurious, a simple reading of said report shows that it make no mention of GoldQuest. What the investment report proves is that complainants made investment in Diversified Global Holdings, Ltd.," the DOJ resolution said. It further noted that a fact ignored by the investigating prosecutor is that complainants became stockholders and even directors of V-Team, the marketing arm of GoldQuest. The DOJ also said there was no concrete evidence provided which proves that complainants were undoubtedly entitled to stock certificates in GoldQuest. “This case is clearly not criminal in nature. At most, it merely involves a civil liability pertaining to return of investments. Respondents are correct that this is a claim of directors and investors against a corporation for non-delivery of stock certificates or dividends," the DOJ said. The justice department further stressed that the prosecutor’s office erred in its resolution when it relies on the weak defense of the respondents to file the case in court rather than on the strength of the prosecution’s evidence. The Malaysian and his three Filipino partners were arrested in Jakarta on May 3 while attending a party in a hotel, based on the warrants of arrest issued by Judge Vargas. They were released from detention on August 1 after a Jakarta court denied the request of the National Bureau of Investigation for their extradition on the ground that the crime of syndicated estafa does not appear in Indonesia’s statute books. Sources from the QCRTC Branch 219 said the pending petition of the respondents before the Supreme Court would now be considered moot and academic following the DoJ’s dismissal of the case. - GMANews.TV