"Three companies listed in the British Virgin Islands?"
It seems Panay Electric Company’s woes are far from over.
A couple of weeks ago, Peco lost its appeal to regain distribution assets now controlled by rival firm More Electric Power Corp. or More Power after an Iloilo City court junked their motion for reconsideration.
Still reeling from its debacle, Peco is now facing investigation after a lawyer from Iloilo City bared yesterday he will pursue a case against the old utility company and its owners—the Cacho family, led by its patriarch Luis Miguel Cacho—over the opening of three offshore companies in the Bahamas. This was discovered in an international investigation of leaked papers of a Singapore-based company specializing in putting up paper companies in a Caribbean tax haven.
Lawyer Zafiro Lauron said he would file a case to convince the Anti-Money Laundering Council to open an investigation into the offshore bank accounts of the Cacho family and Peco. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists listed the utility company as one of the beneficial owners of two companies while Luis Miguel Cacho was said to own an investment company, all registered in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven favored by the world’s rich families to avoid payment of taxes in their home countries, in its web portal in its web portal.
The offshore bank accounts of the Cacho family and Peco are among those listed in the findings of the ICIJ, a global network of more than 190 investigative journalists in more than 65 countries who collaborate on in-depth investigative stories.
The Offshore Leaks Papers comprised the first batch of secret papers in a computer drive that arrived in the group’s headquarters in London in 2013. The drive contained four large databases plus half a million text, PDF, spreadsheet, image and web files. Analysis by ICIJ’s data experts showed that the data originated in 10 offshore jurisdictions, including the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and Singapore. It included details of more than 122,000 offshore companies or trusts, nearly 12,000 intermediaries (agents or “introducers”), and about 130,000 records on the people and agents who run, own, benefit from or hide behind offshore companies.
According to the ICIJ, among the documents found in the data leaked to the group called the Offshore Leaks Papers (https://offshoreleaks.icij.org/) were thousands of documents listing the paper companies that were registered in the British Virgin Islands in Bahamas by the Portcullis TrustNet Fund Services Ltd., a company owned by Singapore-based Portcullis Services Pte. Limited.
Based on its findings, the ICIJ unearthed papers showing that the utility firm Peco and members of the Cacho family were able to register at least three companies in the British Virgin Islands. The listing at a period when Iloilo City’s officials and City Council, pushed by thousands of complaints from Ilonggos on the company’s poor quality of service and monthly electricity bills that were among the highest in the country at that time, demanded that PECO account for the high levels of profits that it had declared for its shareholders.
The ICIJ web page https://offshoreleaks.icij.org/nodes/293428 showed that the late Luis Miguel Cacho, the patriarch of the clan, registered a company called the Costa Group Investments Ltd., an entity registered with the British Virgin Islands in the Bahamas on April 11, 2000, with an address listed as Portcullis Trustnet Chambers, PO Box 3444 Road Town Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
Costa Group’s papers listed as members of its Board of Directors Luis Miguel Ayesa Cacho, who is also corporate secretary, Jose Maria E. Cacho and a certain William Michael Valtos Jr. Portcullis Trustnet (BVI or British Virgin Islands) Ltd. acted as keeper of records and register.
Luis Miguel is also President and Chief Operating Officer of Panay Electric Co. or PECO and his son Marcelo Cacho is PECO’s head of Public Engagement and Government Affairs Marcelo Cacho. Jose Maria is the brother of Luis Miguel and has been declared legally blind.
The companies that Peco reportedly set up with the help of Portcullis Trustnet and Valtos were the Prime Rose Technology Ltd. and the Mega International Services Ltd.
Prime Rose Technology was registered in the British Virgin Islands on October 11, 2000, with Jose Maria Cacho, Peco and Valtos listed as shareholders and Cacho and Valtos as Directors.
Mega International Services, on the other hand, was set up a month earlier on Sept. 12, 2000, with Jose Maria E. Cacho, JMEC Development Corp. and Valtos as Shareholders, with Jose Maria Cacho and Valtos as Directors. PortCullis Trustnet also served as keeper of records and registry.
JMEC Development Corp. is a company registered in the Philippines that handles business management consultancy and real estate sale and development in Iloilo City, with address as 168 General Luna St, Iloilo City Proper, Iloilo City, 5000 Iloilo.
Whereas it has lost in the “power struggle” in Iloilo before, now Peco is bound to lose more, if not everything.