The Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has lodged a criminal complaint against Philippine casino investor Calata Corporation for its misleading statements regarding its P65-billion integrated gaming resort project in Mactan, Cebu.
Charged before the Philippine Justice Department for violation of Section 24 (d) and Section 54.1 (c) of the Securities Regulation Code (Republic Act 8799) were Calata president and CEO Joseph Calata; corporate secretary Atty. Jose Marie Fabella; and chief financial officer and chief operations officer Benison Paul De Torres.
Also cited in the complaint were Calata directors Fr. Conrado Zablan, Johnny Uy, Halmond Parker Ong, and Edmund Solilapsi, as well as Michael Foxman, director at the Macau Resources Group Ltd, and some unidentified individuals.
According to the GMA News Online, the SEC accused Calata of misleading the public when it disclosed last August that it was expecting to secure a license from the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to proceed with the Mactan Leisure City project by the end of 2017.
It turned out that the state regulator had junked its application on May 16, 2016 for the reason that the project failed to meet the minimum 50 hectares of land required of applications for new casino licenses.
Under section 24 of the SEC code, it is unlawful for any persons to make false or misleading statements with respect to any material fact that he knew or had reasonable ground to believe was false or misleading, for the purpose of inducing the purchase or sale of any security listed or traded at the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE).
“When the disclosure came, they made it appear as if that there was still that plan [establishment of Mactan Leisure City]. In fact, the disclosure is by 2017 they will be able to receive that license and that by 2020 it will be fully operational,” lawyer Jose Aquino, director of SEC enforcement and investor protection department, told local reporters.
Calata announced in August 2016 that it planned to forge an alliance with a potential investor in the construction of a 14-hectare casino resort on Mactan Island, which would feature three hotels, a casino and entertainment complex, commercial, retail and conference facilities as well as a yacht club.
But trouble soon hounded the project after it informed the PSE that the potential investor had yet to raise sufficient funds to complete its financial commitment.
A week before the charges against Calata were filed, the PSE officially ordered the delisting of the embattled agribusiness from its official registry for multiple violations of disclosure rules.