By NITZ ARANCON, Correspondent .
THE Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) arrested former Cagayan de Oro vice mayor Caesar Ian Acenas and four other people linked to an alleged investment scam that siphoned off some P400 million in Mindanao alone.
Authorities arrested Acenas and other suspects during an entrapment at a coffee shop at the North Reclamation Area in Mandaue, Cebu, at around 10 pm Tuesday.
Maj. Edwin Lacostales, CIDG chief for Mandaue City, identified those arrested together with Acenas as Aileen Hope Matulac, Maria Esperanza Makinano, Arjun Gomban, and Ajetor Daya.
Lacostales said the transaction foiled by the CIDG in Mandaue on Tuesday night involved some P10 million.
Lacostales said the 41-year-old Matulac was the primary target of the entrapment she being the alleged chief executive officer of Phoenix EA Holdings International Inc. which is being linked to an alleged “double-your-money” investment scam.
Police seized from one of the suspects, Daya, a caliber .45 pistol. He allegedly served as Matulac’s bodyguard and driver.
Lacoslates said Matulac’s group yielded cash that was used by the CIDG in the entrapment.
Police also seized the suspects’ cellphones, including Acenas’s.
Lacoslates said CIDG agents seized nothing from Acenas except for his cellphone “but we are wondering why he was there during the operation.”
He said Acenas claimed to be an “investor.”
Lacoslates said the group is the subject of complaints for multiple estafa in Mindanao, including Davao and Cagayan de Oro.
The group allegedly promised a 30-percent interest for every “investment” after one month.
In Mindanao alone, Lacostales said, the group raked in at least P400 million in “investments,” and then they shifted to the Visayas.
“They have been operating in Mindanao for quite some time already. They just started operating in the Visayas,” he said.
Lacostales said the suspects, including Acenas, were placed under detention at the CIDG office in Mandaue, and would be charged with estafa.
Daya, meanwhile, would be charged with illegal arms possession and estafa.