The Court of Appeals has affirmed the conviction of “pyramid queen” Rosario Baladjay and her husband Saturnino over the investment scam by their firm Multinational Telecoms Investors Corporation (Multitel) that duped thousands of victims in the 1990s.
In its decision, the CA’s Special 17th Division sustained the November 2015 judgment of the Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 56 that sentenced the couple to at least 455 years in prison.
The appellate court dismissed Baladjay’s petition to reverse the RTC’s decision for lack of merit.
The court had found the Baladjays guilty of 65 counts of violating the Securities Regulation Code (SRC) for selling unregistered securities to the public, which carries a penalty of seven to 21 years in prison per count.
The CA also upheld the order of the
RTC for the couple to pay the complainants a total of P8 million.
While the couple were sentenced to a total of 455 years in prison, the sentence will be reduced to 40 years at most under the three-fold rule on penalties in criminal cases, which provides that the maximum duration of the convict’s sentence shall not be more than three-fold the length of time corresponding to the most severe of the penalties imposed upon him.
The appellate court had previously upheld the Baladjays’ conviction in several other criminal cases involving various complainants and also rejected similar petitions they filed.
The Supreme Court had also upheld the conviction of Baladjay in a July 2017 ruling.
Records showed that Multitel, which started operations the late 1980s until it was shut down by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2001, was able to attract investors by offering them a guaranteed 4 percent monthly interest or 48 percent per year, for a minimum investment of P10,000.
The firm also offered an alternative of double-your-money scheme for a lock-in period of 18 months and used counselors to investors for a commission of 20 percent per recruit.
Then SEC had issued a cease and desist order in March 2001 after receiving reports that Multitel had conduit companies such as Everflow and One Heart offering investors 10 percent return per annum.
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