NEWSFLASH


INVESTIGATIVE REPORT: FILIPINO IS KING OF BOILER ROOMS, PART 2

Manila, April 16, 2002 (STAR) By Sheila Samonte-Pesayco Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism - (Second of a series)

Today, 30-year-old Amador Pastrana is said to own more than 100 boiler rooms and shell companies around the world. Some of them are incorporated in small tax-haven territories such as the Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Mauritius, Cayman Islands, Western Samoa, Turks and Caicos, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Island of Nevis, and the republics of Liberia and Seychelles. Those in the United States were incorporated in Nevada, Florida, Delaware and South Carolina.

James Martin, director of the Sydney-based Stock Investigation Research Society who says he was duped by Pastrana in an even more complicated way, has also received reports that Pastrana in the early 1990s had crossed paths with Sherman Mazur, a German national who was then running boiler rooms in the United States. In 1993, Mazur was sentenced to five years in prison in California for securities fraud. While he was serving time, Mazur reportedly passed on the management of his boiler rooms to Pastrana, "whom he trusted," says Martin. "But Amador not only took over these boiler rooms, (he) set up more."

Records obtained on Pastrana’s US corporate empire as of June 2000, though, lists only seven OTCBB-listed companies created out of a series of reverse mergers and acquisition of dormant firms. The results are several holding companies operating only on paper, usually with the same corporate secretary, Roy Rayo, or Filipino lawyer Claudine Montenegro whom Martin also sued for practising in the US without a license.

The seven US holding companies are neatly spread out into different sectors. Apart from Digital Reach Holdings Corp., which takes care of investments, there is Key Holdings Corp., which was incorporated in Nevada, but is an "online gaming company based in Antigua or Dominican Republic." Netsat Holdings Ltd. is said to focus on telecommunications and Internet service, Your Future Holdings Inc. on educational development and technology, Labco Pharma on pharmaceuticals, and another Cayman-based holding company for food. There is also Stratasys, once owned by Martin but is now Pastrana’s, which is a Bermuda-based holding firm supposedly handling software development.

The shares of these companies are listed on the OTCBB, which is highly vulnerable to price manipulation. Not surprisingly, these nearly worthless company stocks are among the offerings of Pastrana’s boiler rooms. Harvey himself says he was among those who loaded up on Labco Pharma shares.

While the clients of his operations permanently part ways with their money, Pastrana has yet to stop raking it in. According to one of his former employees here in Manila, his companies’ tills rang up a total of some $5 million a day in 2000. Other ex-employees say more than a third of that automatically went to Pastrana while only a tenth was used to buy legitimate stocks in behalf of clients.

A former resident of a squatter community in Guadalupe Viejo in Makati, Pastrana is now said to own a $2.8-million apartment penthouse on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, California.

"He also bought his mother a lovely gift: a $14-million house in Rancho Santa Margarita in Mission Viejo, California," says Martin. "A very nice son, don’t you think?"

In the Philippines, his properties reportedly include two luxury condominium units in the high-end Essensa East in Taguig, a villa with a view of the sea in Caylabne Bay, the Winners restaurant on Arnaiz Avenue in Makati, and units at The Peak, also in Makati. Authorities hot on Pastrana’s trail say some of the properties have been placed under the name of his front companies such as Euro Pacific Trade Inc., or those of members of his immediate family.

Pastrana’s megabucks have also found their way into listed conglomerates such as Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa Ltd., as well as Singapore Telecoms, US metal producer Alcoa Inc., Pacific Cyberworks of Hong Kong, and US semiconductor firm Intel.

United Resources Asset Management Inc., which was set up in May 2000 and now acts as investment manager for the entire Pastrana group of companies, had a portfolio of $200,000 invested in these stocks. In its first year of operation, the company targeted an investment of over $20 million a year, according to AAP Management records.

Some of his associates say that despite his supposed riches, Pastrana still has some simple joys, among them buying brand-name shoes at bargain prices in either Bangkok or Hong Kong. But he is also known for e-mailing his personal secretary to keep replenishing his stock of blue and black Mont Blanc pens, as well as showing off the results of his latest liposuction or the wonders cosmetic surgery has done on his face.

Obviously, too, Pastrana is making good a promise his former associates say he made to himself several years back. When he was still a struggling college student, Pastrana was said to have sworn in true Scarlett O’Hara fashion: "I shall never go hungry again."


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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