Luis Manzano tagged in Flex Fuel P100M investment scam but popular TV host denies involvement

By Nancy Carvajal

Actor and television host Luis Manzano is facing a complaint before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) after 100 persons failed to recover their investment of nearly P1 million each from Flex Fuel Corporation, where he used to sit as chairman of the board.

Five investors filed the complaint against Manzano and businessman Ildefonso “Bong” Medel Jr., who’s tagged as the chairman and chief executive officer of the ICM Group of Companies, the parent firm of Flex Fuel Petroleum Corporation.

Jinky Sta. Isabel, the complainants’ spokesperson, claimed there were more than 100 investors who initially invested P990,000 in Flex Fuel because of Manzano. She said she also placed money in the company because of the actor’s pitch.

“We invested because of Luis Manzano. His message during a Zoom conference in 2020 resonated with us. We trusted in Flex Fuel because his name was attached to it,” Sta. Isabel told Bilyonaryo.

She said Manzano distanced himself from Flex Fuel just as investors started demanding for their money to be returned.

“Manzano told us he’s no longer connected with the company. However, it was him who represented Flex Fuel to us in 2020 and that’s why we invested,” Sta. Isabel said.

In a letter dated November 8, 2022 sent to NBI Director Atty. Medardo De Lemos, Manzano’s abogado, Regidor Caringal, said the actor already divested his interests in ICM and its affiliate companies, including Flex Fuel.

Caringal said Manzano, the son of actor Edu Manzano and showbiz icon Vilma Santos, has also resigned as chairman of the board of ICM.

Medel’s group reportedly owes P66 million to Manzano.

On Manzano’s behalf, Caringal asked that the NBI investigate ICM and Medel over their failure to address investors’ concerns. He said various individuals who claimed to have invested money in Flex Fuel have approached the actor for assistance.

In an affidavit submitted to the NBI on December 21, 2022, Manzano claimed that he was made the chairman of the board of Medel’s companies “as one of the guaranties for my investment.”

Manzano, however, insisted that he “never took part in the management of the business.” He said he resigned from ICM in February 2022 because Medel failed to disclose “important matters” related to the companies to him.

“Bong conducted the business in such a way that operational matters were kept away from me,” Manzano said.

The actor said Medel continued to play deaf to investors’ concerns even after these have been relayed to him.

“Up to now,” Manzano said, “there are still individuals reaching out to me for help and assistance regarding their investments in Flex Fuel.”

In 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warned the public against investing their money in gasoline firms offering co-ownership deals in exchange for hefty returns.

Reports quoting the SEC mentioned Flex Fuel as among the companies unauthorized to offer securities to the public.

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