Manila, June 18, 2003 By Zinnia B. Dela Peña (Star) The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into the operations of OFW International Holdings Inc. following reports that the company has been soliciting investments from the public without prior clearance from the corporate watchdog agency.

An SEC offficial said OFW Holdings has been seeking investments from overseas Filipinos worldwide through the Internet, promising big returns in just a short period of time.

The company is a separate and distinct business arm of the OFWNet Foundation, Inc., which was registered with the SEC on March 11, 2002. It serves as the umbrella corporation for the various businesses that will be spawned and developed to pursue one of the twin goals of the foundation – economic empowerment for overseas Filipinos worldwide.

The flagship project of the holding company is the OFW Bank which will serve all the banking needs of OFWs and their families. It will be fully-owned, operated and patronized by overseas Filipinos themselves.

Its mission is to create, develop and provide the most responsive and significant products and services, and investment opportunities for all overseas Filipinos, whether they are contract workers, permanent residents or citizens of various countries all over the world.

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier issued an advisory to all Philippine consulates abroad, warning OFWs against investing in pseudo-investment firms masquerading as legitimate multilevel marketing companies.

The move was in response to the request of the SEC for all foreign service posts to disseminate the list of corporations engaged in illegal solicitation of investments, in order to prevent OFWs from being victimized by Ponzi or pyramiding schemes.

The SEC has received reports that thousands of OFWs were swindled by these Ponzi or pyramid scheme operators with their enticing come-ons.

Pseudo-investment firms usually solicit investments ranging from P10,000 to P100,000, with a promise to investors their money will earn interest as high as 15 percent monthly. The firms do not clearly explain how they can give high interests to investors.

In its letter to Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Jose S. Brilliantes, the SEC named 31 corporations believed to engage in unregistered investment activities. These included Atlantic Invest, Florentino Mateo Lending Services Inc., Golden Firebird Marketing, Vefloni Lending Services Inc., Asian Media Development Group Inc., Asian Islands Management Inc., BXI Properties and Holdings Inc., CITP New Century International, Crisis Solution Inc., Good Harvest Orchard Inc., Lead Lending Corp., Speed Credit and Collection, Access Credit & Development Group, AVG Group of Companies, MMC Investment and Finance Corp., Multitel Investment Corp., Multitel Investors Corp., Multitel Lending Corp., Phil-Asia Lending Investors Inc., Zurich Investment Group, AVG Lending Investors Inc., BGA Lending Investors Inc., Coin’s Account Lending Services Inc., Red Dragon Lending Corp., Five Vision Consultancy Inc., Intercontinental Services Inc., Conrad Group and Associates Inc., Servlink Cargo Inc., Overseas Workers Stock Capital, Mateo Management Group, Tibayan Group of Companies.

Among these corporations, the SEC has so far issued cease-and-desist orders against Glasgow Credit and Collection Services Inc., CyberWeb Group, the Multitel Group of Companies, MMG or the Mateo Management Group of Companies, Tibayan Group, and Five Vision for illegally selling securities without proper registration.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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