Jachob 'Coco' Rasuman, leader of an investment firm allegedly behind a massive pyramiding scam, is escorted by NBI agents at the NAIA-3 the other night. Inset shows Rasuman during his arrest in Marawi City. RUDY SANTOS/GERRY GORIT

MANILA, Philippines - Alleged investment scam ringleader Jachob “Coco” Rasuman was flown to Manila late Tuesday evening from Cagayan de Oro and was immediately whisked off to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

He is facing investigation for a P247-million investment scam in Mindanao.

Authorities are now pursuing possible links between him and Manuel Amalilio, the leader of the Aman Futures Group Phils. Inc. that was reported to have divested some 15,000 people of P12 billion through his trading firm in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Rasuman was arrested after the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed charges of syndicated estafa against him, his father, former public works undersecretary Bashir Dimaampo Rasuman, Emma Amer Rasuman, Jeremiah Amer Rasuman, Jamirie Amer Rasuman, Jamila Rasuman Tomawis, Jalaima Rasuman Mangarin, Jerome Amer Rasuman, Bashir Rasuman Jr., Amer Tomawis, and Princess Allah Tomawis Rasuman.

While on his way to the NBI headquarters in Manila, Rasuman told GMA News he has not been feeling well the past few days and was having a hard time breathing.

Authorities took his mug shots and fingerprints, and he was made to undergo an initial medical examination upon his arrival at NBI headquarters. One of the medical staff said his blood pressure was 130/80.

Rasuman was arrested Tuesday afternoon in his house in Marawi City where he was staying while under military protective custody.

The arrest was ordered by Cagayan de Oro City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 20 Judge Bonifacio Macabaya immediately after the DOJ filed syndicated estafa complaint against him and 10 others.

Authorities are now tracing the whereabouts of the other accused and the former undersecretary, who was said to be in his house in Metro Manila.

NBI Director Nonnatus Rojas said no surrender feelers have been sent by any of the other suspects.

Rojas said that Rasuman is not being accorded VIP treatment as he is detained inside the NBI detention cell with the other suspects.

The NBI has implemented restricted access to the detention area.

Finding links to terror plot

Meanwhile, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said the NBI has received a report that some of the funds involved in the Ponzi-type scam had reached people supposedly involved in terror activities.

De Lima revealed that the alarming information – although still raw – prompted the NBI to seek the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC)’s help in freezing Aman’s assets as early as last July.

Last week the Court of Appeals (CA) issued a 20-day freeze order covering 25 bank accounts registered under Aman and Amalilio through an ex-parte petition filed by the AMLC and the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) that sought to avert the possibility that funds in the subject bank accounts would be withdrawn and placed beyond reach of law enforcers.

The CA fourth division, in its 12-page order released to the media yesterday, also confirmed NBI’s probe on Aman’s link with terrorists.

De Lima said she has already instructed the OSG to seek the extension of the freeze order in the hearing at the CA on Dec. 3.

The NBI has also formally charged Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co before the DOJ as an accomplice of Aman.

In a referral-complaint, the bureau named the mayor and his wife Pricilla Ann Fernandez Co among the respondents in the charges for syndicated estafa filed by businessman Samsodin Ala, fire officer Fabian Tapayan Jr. and government employee Norolhaya Taha.

Tapayan alleged in his affidavit that Mayor Co personally received investments from victims. He corroborated an earlier statement of Aman financial manager-turned-witness Ma. Donna Coyme that the mayor even distributed checks to some investors.

Other respondents named in the complaint were Amalilio and five members of the Aman board of directors who had surrendered to the NBI – Leila Lim Gan, Eduard Lim, Willanie Fuentes, Naezelle Rodriguez and Lurix Lopez.

A sixth member of the Aman board, Fernando Luna; agents Mohammad Hassan Mackno and Dimasara Jova; and Co’s trusted aid Ian Madarang were also impleaded in the charge sheet.

Senate will look into scams

At the Senate, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III has called for a probe into the proliferation of investment scams in the country and the possible involvement of some public officials, either as accomplices or victims themselves.

Pimentel filed Senate Resolution 908 the other day calling for the conduct of a probe by the committee on trade and commerce together with the committee on accountability of public officers and investigations or Blue Ribbon.

Based on Presidential Decree 1689, the penalty for syndicated estafa is life imprisonment. – With Marvin Sy, Rudy Santos, Jigger Jerusalem, Roel Pareño