MAKING the business environment easier for investors may also encourage scammers and swindlers to perpetrate crimes, an official of the Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday.
SEC’s enforcement and investor protection division assistant director Lalaine Monserate said while the ease of doing business would invite more investors, it would also allow swindlers or scammers to do business.
“The ease of doing business is not good for the SEC, even if the we want to encourage more investors, more foreigners to come into the country,” Monserate said during the launch of Sun Life Asset Management Company Inc.’s “Slam the Scam” campaign.
“Our problem with the ease in doing business, the scammers are thriving, just like a dam. Opening the dam and the water flows there, so what the regulators will do, to look for those water out there,” she said. Monserate said that in order to regulate the scam cases in the country, the agency should be strict even during the first round of doing business, or the registration phase.
She said because of the ease of doing business, SEC registration could be released in a maximum of three days now. She said another reform needed in the industry was the formation of an anti-cybercrime division in the SEC.
“We don’t have any office dedicated to that [cybercrime]. That is why we have to coordinate with NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] and PNP [Philippine National Police] anti-cybercrime and you know how hard to coordinate with them. They have also a lot of cybercrime cases. The SEC is not a priority,” Monserate said.
“So I suggest one of the reforms, that there should be a division in the SEC dedicated to cybercrime,” she said.
Monserate said she recommended these reforms to the Anti-money Laundering Council to properly address the growing cases of scam in the country. SEC’s latest data showed around P12 billion to P25 billion were invested in reported cases of scam.
The single biggest loss reported was P1 billion in Binondo, while the single biggest loss documented was P70 million in Bel-Air Village in Makati City.
SEC said around 250,000 to about one million “investors” were victimized by the scammers.
“The scammers are two steps ahead of us,” Monserate said.
Meanwhile, SLAMCI, the fund manager of Sun Life Financial launched its multi-media campaign dubbed “Slam the Scam” to help the regulator address the issue of investment scam in the country.
The campaign will share tips on what to consider when choosing an investment company, as well as red flags on dubious organizations.
SLAMCI president Valerie Pama said Filipinos fell victim to scammers because of greed or the get-rich-syndrome, having too much trust or the lack of financial literacy and awareness.