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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

DOJ dismisses falsification raps vs. owner of Bren Esports

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The Department of Justice has dismissed the complaint for falsification filed by the National Bureau of Investigation against businessman Bernard “Bren” Chong, the owner and CEO of mobile gaming team Bren Esports, for lack of probable cause.

In a 27-page decision promulgated by Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento, the DOJ found no probable cause to indict Chong —who is also the scion of World Balance, a company that produces products for active lifestyle and sports footwear—of committing the alleged crime.

The order dated October 10, 2023 also cleared Alaine Margaret Chong and others for falsification of Commercial Documents under Article 172 of the Revised Penal Code filed by the NBI-Anti-Organized and Transnational Crime Division (NBI-AOTCD).

“After a careful and judicious evaluation of the records and evidence presented in this case, it is the stern opinion of the undersigned panel of prosecutors that no probable cause exists against the respondents for the charges of Falsification of Commercial Documents,” the order stated.

The panel composed of Senior Assistant State Prosecutor Florencio dela Cruz Jr., Assistant State Prosecutor Maria Kristhina Paat-Salumbides, Prosecution Attorney Alyssa Nezren Mangata, and Senior Deputy State Prosecutor Richard Anthony Fadullon recommended the dismissal of the case for lack of evidence.

The NBI filed a case against Chong and several Brenterprise International Inc. employees for allegedly printing fraudulent receipts in May last year.

The DOJ panel stressed that the allegation is too general and the elements of the crime of falsification are lacking in the evidence submitted by the NBI-AOCTCD.

The decision said that the complainant failed to specify what among the enumerated acts of falsification was committed by the respondents.

“Hence, the criminal intent to commit the offense is lacking since there is no particularity of the acts of falsification enumerated under Article 171 of the Revised Penal Code that can be attributed to each of the above-named respondents,” the DOJ prosecutors said.

Besides, the records submitted do not indicate the period when respondents Bernard Chong, Alaine Chong and several others were actually in control of the corporation.

According to the DOJ prosecutors, the complaint failed to ascertain the exact nature of the participation of Bernard Chong.

It merely relies on the general averment that respondent Chong is the president and “big boss” of the company.

The decision added that mere membership or being President does not mean knowledge, approval, and participation in the act alleged as criminal. There must be a showing of active participation, not simply a constructive one.

“Owing to the absence of allegation and proof of their exact participation in the commission of the crime charged, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to prove the element of willful intent on their part,” the decision read.

With respect to the charge of printing fraudulent receipts or sales invoices under the National Internal Revenue Code (NIRC), the prosecutors said there is no authorization from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner to file a case.

“There is no authorization from the BIR Commissioner as to the filing of the case hence, dismissible. The fat that it is being related to the Cyber Criminal Law is of no moment since the original charge is for NIRC violation,” the prosecutors added.

Chong was earlier cleared of drug smuggling charges in 2023.

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