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‘Kapa in large-scale estafa’

NBI preparing charges; members join prayer rally

The government prepared charges against officials of Kapa Community Ministry International for an alleged pyramid scheme that defrauded members of as much as P50 billion, but 3,000 of the group's followers gathered Wednesday at the Quezon Memorial Circle for a prayer rally to ask that the “investment” operations be resumed.

‘Kapa in large-scale estafa’
LET THERE BE LIGHT. And the lights from cellphones of members of the Kapa Community Ministry International Inc. (KAPA), a Surigao del Sur-based religious corporation found by authorities to be soliciting investments from the public in a manner resembling a Ponzi scheme, during their prayer rally at the Quezon Memorial Circle Wednesday. Revoli Cortez
National Bureau of Investigation agents and police raided 14 KCMI offices nationwide and seized various documents Monday, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the authorities to shut down investment scams like Kapa, operating mainly in Southern Mindanao.

“We are preparing the appropriate complaint against the founder and other officers of Kapa,” said lawyer Antonio Pagatpat, NBI deputy director for operations service.

Undercover NBI agents joined Kapa to investigate and found out that the group accepts anyone regardless of their religious background, with their “donation” being the only requirement.

“After filling up their forms as a member of a religious group, they would give their money [donation] and were scheduled to come back a month after to get their 30 percent earnings [love gift or blessing],” said Pagatpat.

He said his men could not find any source of investments where Kapa founder Joel Apolinario could get the 30-percent guaranteed return.

“It was clear that this was bound to fail because that money given to first investors were coming from new recruits. The day will come when no more payouts will be given because there will be no more recruits signing up,” Pagatpat told UNTV.

He said the law requires any group or company to secure a license from the Securities and Exchange Commission before engaging in any kind of investment activity. Kapa is not a religious group as it claims, he said.

“From day one up to the time it was ripe for operations, not a single religious activity was conducted by the organization. In fact, they accept any members regardless of their religion as long as they have a donation,” Pagatpat said in a mix of English and Filipino.

He said those involved in the investment scam may face charges for large-scale estafa.

Lawmen came up with the raid based on the search warrants issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 20 against the firm for violating Sections 8 and 26 of the Securities Corporation Code of the Philippines.

The authorities swooped down Kapa’s branch offices in Compostela in Cebu; Tacloban City; Taytay, Rizal; Tagum City; Opol, Mislamis Oriental; and even the house of its founder Joel Apolinario in General Santos City.

Apolinario denied the allegations against them, saying Kapa is a legitimate religious group. Some members seconded Apolinario.

Pagatpat said they have not arrested any member of the group but the authorities have confiscated several documents, records, books and equipment from the offices.

“No arrests have been made yet because when our teams reached all offices of Kapa, they were already non-operational, closed. But we were able to seize some vital evidence,” he said.

The NBI also recovered cash amounting to P2.2 million and P300,000 from two different Kapa offices.

In a press conference last Monday, SEC Chairman Emilio Aquino said they were building a case against Kapa.

“We are going to file the necessary charges against the pastor, against his men, against his directors and

against the defenders or those who are abetting and propagating this scheme,” Aquino said.

The group reportedly accepted investments, which it dubbed as “donations” of no less than P10,000 from each of its members, according to the SEC.

The SEC considered the scheme to be among the biggest investment scams in the country since it has already taken no less than P50 billion from its members.

“With 5-million members, with a minimum investment of P10,000 per member, you’re looking at P50 billion,” said Aquino.

Duterte said the activities of these investment schemes, including the Kapa Community Ministry International, were clearly a form of estafa.

“The operation of Kapa was a clear pyramiding scheme, which collected money from its members to give to the pioneering operators of the group. When it is too good to be true, it is fraud,” he said.

Duterte said it was impossible for a group to give 30-percent monthly interests to investments because banks here and abroad could only give a maximum of 3-percent interest per year.

At the Quezon Memorial Circle, Danilo Mangahas, Ahon sa Kahirapan Movement convenor, and a Kapa member, said they would “pray that Kapa would be allowed to operate again.”

Asked to comment about reports that the NBI would file a large-scale estafa case against Kapa members, including those from Taytay, Rizal, he said: “Let us wait for the formal complaint.”

“Kapa is more than willing to be investigated,” he added.

READ: SEC: P50 billion flowed into Kapa

READ: Duterte sets crackdown on 'investment' scams

READ: Cult in trouble for invest schemes

Topics: Kapa Community Ministry International , pyramid scheme , prayer rally , National Bureau of Investigation agents and police raided 14 KCMI offices nationwide and seized various documents Monday , a day after President Rodrigo Duterte order , Rodrigo Duterte
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