POSTSCRIPT / August 21, 2007 / Tuesday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Drive vs Abu Sayyaf justified as hot pursuit

HOT PURSUIT: Marines’ killing 42 terrorists while losing 15 men, including five officers just graduated from the Philippine Military Academy, in a fierce firefight with the Abu Sayyaf is not the kind of news one relishes on a Sunday, or any other day.

But it is a reality we all have to live with as we go through the arduous search for a just solution to the centuries-old Moro problem.

Pouring in more men and materiel into the hunt for the Abu beasts who beheaded 10 of the soldiers slain in an ambush last July 10 is not being warlike or overly hawkish.

Acting promptly and adequately to get the perpetrators of the grisly crime is justified by the circumstances of the hot pursuit.

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DIVERSIONARY: There seems to be an interest group trying to divert attention from the crooks behind an investment scam exposed recently.

A few weeks ago, the public was made aware of the modus operandi of swindlers who had victimized would-be investors, including moneyed and educated individuals.

Their operation was similar to a pyramid scam — they enticed people to invest with the prospects of big profits and then to recruit others to earn much more.

But these schemers led by one Michael Liew managed to escape with the loot while everybody looked on helplessly.

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PULL A RABBIT: Their vanishing act made law enforcers look like aspiring track stars trying to run the hundred-meter dash while wearing leg irons.

To mitigate the embarrassment, another unit of the National Bureau of Investigation was made to simulate some fast action, like they were chasing a rabbit – except that they first had to pull it out of a magic hat.

The budding magicians may not have much reason, but they did have some rhyme. They pulled out of the hat a business firm whose name sounded like PIPC (Performance Investment Products Corp.), the one that got away.

The poor rabbit’s name was PFEC (for Performance Foreign Exchange Corp.).

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PFEC NOT PIPC: Armed with a search warrant, agents of the Anti-Organized Crime Division of the NBI raided PFEC’s office at the plush Enterprise Center at the corner of Ayala and Paseo de Roxas in Makati.

The warrant was based on the complaint of one alleged victim identified as George Palos, who claimed that he was enticed to invest $8,500 in PFEC to earn big profit. He said his investment flopped and he was unable to recover his money.

It turned out that the two firms — PFEC and PIPC — are into entirely different operations and have no business relations with each other.

PFEC is a firm engaged legitimately in foreign exchange trading for more than nine years now, not in anything remotely resembling pyramiding. It is only now that PFEC has found itself dragged into a fraud case.

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LIEW OUT: Unfazed, the NBI still raised the possibility of a business link. Plausible reason: Investigation showed that Michael Liew founded PFEC and was a former board chairman.

But Liew, the Singaporean owner of PIPC, is not connected with PFEC. While he was one of those who established PFEC in 1998, he has ceased involvement in its operations since June 2004.

He divested in 2005 his entire shareholdings in favor of Solid Gold Group. He now has no connection whatsoever with PFEC.

The Central Bank, btw, said PFEC’s financial derivative transactions and trading mechanisms are well within the law.

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LEGIT TRADE: The NBI should have checked first with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The files of PFEC show it has been legally engaged in the trading of foreign exchange since June 1998.

It is affiliated with P.T. Solid Gold Berjangka ( Indonesia) and Solid Gold Financial Services Inc. ( USA). It has branches in Ortigas, Pasig City, and Cebu City.

Foreign exchange trading is an internationally recognized business. Touted as the largest financial market in the world, big and respected names are engaged in it.

Major currencies are traded among large banks, currency speculators, multinational companies, governments, financial markets, and other entities.

An average of $2 trillion is traded daily. Retail traders (individuals) are but a small fraction of this market, participating through banks or brokers. The PFEC is one such broker.

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FX PLATFORM: According to PFEC, it keeps its clients updated with the current market trends and activities with its daily commentaries, newsletters and currency trackers.

It claims to be the largest information service and trading facility provider with the widest range of value added services in the country today.

One of its important services uses its state-of-the-art Internet currency trading system called the FX Platform. It is a web-based leveraged, 24-hour market access trading system using the latest in Internet technology.

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RISKS CITED: Many PFEC clients have earned huge profits, but some of them had suffered losses.

The mere fact that an investor has lost his money, PFEC says, does not mean that there is a scam. Investment and similar businesses involve risks. One does not always make money.

Clients make the final decision with respect to their investments. The broker merely provides information that they need to make the right decisions. Clients are also provided with the means to manage the risks and limit their losses.

Because of the nature of spot foreign exchange trading which is highly sensitive to market forces and is, therefore, very unpredictable, it is impossible to guarantee profits or a return on investments.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of August 21, 2007)

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