NBI CHIEF'S BROD IN ON PYRAMID SCAM?

Manila, March 25, 2003 - - Senators yesterday refused to buy the claim of
Willy Wycoco, brother of NBI chief Reynaldo Wycoco, that he had nothing to
do with "pyramid scam queen" Rosario Baladjay.

Wycoco told the Senate trade and commerce committee he does not personally
know Baladjay.

He said he only heard of Baladjay through Julius Fuentebella, director of
Multinational Telecom Investors Corp. (Multitel).

Wycoco said his acquaintance with Fuentebella started when the latter
bought a car from Columbia Motors Inc. in Makati, for which Wycoco is a
security consultant.

Wycoco said following their first meeting, Fuentebella asked him if he
would like to work as security consultant for the SMB Security and
Protective Agency Inc., which is owned by the Rosario's husband, Saturnino.

He said the working deal with SMB never materialized.

Baladjay, in last Wednesday's committee hearing, claimed Wycoco and
Fuentebella brought her family to Anilao, Batangas in October 2002
allegedly because arrest warrants had been issued against her for
syndicated estafa.

She claimed that Wycoco and Fuentebella forced her to sign deeds of trust
that would effect the transfer of three of her prime real estate properties
to them.

The properties, valued around P80 million, are in Ayala Alabang and Tagaytay.

She also told senators that her and her family's passport are with Wycoco.

She also claimed that Wycoco proposed to facilitate her "escape" to China,
but she turned it down.

Wycoco insisted he has never met Baladjay nor any of her family members.

"If you can see any of Baladjay's properties with me, you can take it,"
Wycoco said.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel castigated Wycoco for giving a smart alecky answer.

"Hindi puwedeng bahala sila diyan. For example, meron silang makuha (real
estate property), daanin sa Pilosopong Tasyo. Hindi ganoon kadali lusutan
iyan lalo na kung kapatid ka ng NBI director. Iba ang sitwasyon mo sa ibang
ordinaryong tao. Kaya nilapitan ka dahil malapit ka, dahil kapatid ka ng
NBI director. Ewan ko lang kung naiintidihan mo iyan," Pimentel said.

Wycoco said Fuentebella turned over the Baladjays' passports to him in the
third week of October 2002. He added he was baffled by Fuentebella's move.

He said he turned over the passports to Ricardo Diaz, NBI Interpol chief,
and member of the DOJ task force on pyramid scam complaints.

Fed by Pimentel with the information that Fuentebella could have given him
the passports because he was the brother of the NBI chief, Wycoco said:
"Maybe, your Honor."

Asked if the passports had any visas bound for China, Wycoco replied in the
negative.

Sen. Rodolfo Biazon noted there was no reason for the NBI to seize the
passport of Baladjay in October 2002 since complaints against Multitel
started coming in only on November 2002.

Biazon vowed to pursue the issue in the next committee hearing.

Sen. Robert Jaworski, trade and commerce committee chair, again warned
Baladjay that the Senate could charge her with perjury if she fails to
submit documents proving Multitel's activities are aboveboard.

Jaworski aired the threat after Baladjay told senators last Wednesday that
she failed to bring Multitel's documents because she was not feeling well.

Asked if Baladjay could only be feigning sickness to elicit sympathy,
Pimentel replied: "Maybe she is trying to do a Saddam Hussein. But
obviously, we will guided not by appearances but by actual evidence."

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group yesterday announced the
arrest last Saturday of Erma Barrameda, 31, Baladjay's cousin and alleged
accomplice, in Cainta, Rizal.

Chief Insp. Vicente Medenilla said Barrameda works as a counselor for
Multitel. Barrameda claimed she herself was a victim. (By Joan Dairo and
Raymond Africa, Malaya)


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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