Casino junket scam: SEC files money laundering charges against Pantollana’s group

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has lodged a criminal complaint against casino junket operator Hector Aldwin Liao Pantollana and his group for alleged money laundering activities.

Pantollana’s group was earlier reported to have defrauded over 10,000 individuals in the Cordillera and surrounding regions of P4 billion, promising a five percent monthly return and an additional two percent for those who recruited new investors.

On May 31, the SEC charged Pantollana’s organizations—Philippine National ESports League, Horizon Players Club, and Team Z—with violations of the Securities Regulation Code (SRC) and the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA). The charges include selling unregistered securities and operating without the necessary licenses.

The SRC prohibits the sale of securities without a duly filed and approved registration statement, while the AMLA designates such violations as predicate offenses for money laundering.

Named in the complaint as key figures in Pantollana’s casino junket operations include Zeus Liao Pantollana, Reymond Lacsamana Galang, Quarry Quieng, and Erwin L. Bangalan.

Others implicated were Den Abad, Daniel Agbisit, JM Almodiente, Rhoda Andrada Casuga, Avegail Namoc Cruz, Maricel Raposon Cesumision, Stephen Cecilia Dorog, Jennilyn Galletes Delos Santos Floresca, Raffy Palangdan Floresca, Heinn Carreon Humilde, Zen Carreon Humilde, Ariel Ramos Katigbak, Vanessa Mendoza Magboo, Paul Tolentino Maranan, Gumba Martinada, Kim Mejica, Christian Jerome Quizon, Neshema Rock Lorico Renta, Ronaldo Embing Renta, James Christopher Tan Roxas, Mikhaela Damasco Ty, Maria Cecilia Tabano Vizcayano, and Joseph Junia Zabala.

Based on the investigation by the SEC’s Enforcement and Investor Protection Department, the group solicited investments from the public, issuing loan contracts with promises of annual profits between 60% and 111%, guaranteed by postdated checks. The complaint described these arrangements as disguised investment contracts and evidence of indebtedness under the SRC.

The SEC noted that Pantollana’s operations bore the hallmarks of a Ponzi scheme, which uses funds from new investors to pay returns to earlier investors, ultimately collapsing when new investments cease.

SEC said Philippine National ESports League, Horizon Players Club, and Team Z are not registered with the SEC and lack the authority to conduct investment solicitation activities

The SEC has requested the DOJ pursue the proceeds of the group’s crimes and any property used in committing these offenses.

Prior to this complaint, the SEC issued a cease and desist order against the group on March 23, 2023, which was made permanent on October 12, 2023.

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