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BIZ BUZZ: ‘Petroscam’

/ 04:04 AM November 22, 2021

Selling unregistered securities as an investment scam is nothing new.

A cursory look at the history of scams in this country will reveal that some people intent on separating unwitting investors from their hard-earned cash have thought of many ways to make this happen.

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But selling unregistered investments in gasoline stations—and promising hefty dividends in return—is a relatively new phenomenon as these things go.

Late last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a certification to clarify the status of an investment scheme allegedly being offered by gasoline retailer PetroMobil that has been circulating around social media.

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In an official document obtained by Biz Buzz, SEC director Vicente Graciano Felizmenio Jr. said the agency’s Markets and Securities Regulation Department had no records showing that a number of fuel retailers had any registration to offer securities to the investing public.

By “securities,” the agency means a contract between a party offering equity or debt in an undertaking and a person who will shell out funds in return for financial returns, an activity that must be registered with the SEC if it involves the money of 19 or more funders.

According to the SEC official, PetroMobil, FlexFuel, Jeafer Fuel, Maximum Fuel, Power Fill, Nirvana Fuel Corp., Marz Fuel, Ofir Petroleum, Astral Fuel and iFuel are not authorized to sell any such securities to the public as specified under the Securities Regulation Code.

“Likewise, the department has not issued permit to sell securities in favor of the above-mentioned entities,” he said. “Further, [the] said entities have not filed nor have any pending applications for registration or permit to sell securities.”

PetroMobil, in particular, has received a lot of publicity on social media, supposedly offering investors returns of P100,000 for every P400,000 they invest to co-own a chain of gasoline stations. These returns of 25 percent are supposedly paid out to investors from the profits of the company from selling petroleum.

Also on social media, one can find complaints against the scheme, some of which come from overseas Filipino workers who have reportedly lost hundreds of thousands of pesos by investing in PetroMobil.

To make matters worse, PetroMobil was investigated by authorities recently for possible smuggling after the Bureau of Customs found in one of its service stations thousands of liters of petroleum unmarked with a special dye used to determine if import duties have been paid.

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So, remember: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

—Daxim L. Lucas

Big plans

It was bound to happen, given the way business ideas were sprouting from the fertile minds of billionaire entrepreneurs Edgar “Injap” Sia II and Tony Tan Caktiong.

We’re talking about the announcement that the company they formed together, DoubleDragon Properties Corp., is now officially DoubleDragon Corp.

It sounds like a simple deletion of a single word in the corporate name, but what it signifies is actually an ambitious path of growth for the next decade, Biz Buzz hears.

On Friday, the company received its Certificate of Amended Articles of Incorporation from the Securities and Exchange Commission that changed its corporate name and primary purpose into an investment holding company.

Injap Investments Inc. and Honeystar Holdings Corp. of the Jollibee Group each hold 35 percent of DoubleDragon.

Sia and Tan Caktiong have a similar entrepreneurial background of starting ventures from scratch and growing them to become well-loved household brands.

No business ideas were revealed yet last week, but be sure to watch this space because we guarantee you’ll read about it here first. Abangan!

—Daxim L. Lucas

CFO of the Year

From occasionally standing up to PLDT Inc. chair Manuel V. Pangilinan (MVP) to her key role steering the telco giant through the COVID-19 crisis, PLDT chief financial officer Anabelle Lim-Chua is a force to be reckoned with in the boardroom.

On her 23rd year with PLDT, Chua gains much deserved recognition as the 2021 ING-Finex CFO of the Year.

For most investors, Chua is a familiar presence in PLDT’s earnings briefings, delivering the numbers meticulously and clinically. It mattered little whether it was a banner year or an annus horribilis.

Chua told ING-Finex that numbers would tell a story but her job was to help people understand what this story meant for them. Beyond the numbers, she said it was about people and their combined roles that would allow an entire organization to achieve its goals.

Calling Chua a tough lady, Pangilinan told ING-Finex that she could “stand up to somebody like myself and always do the right thing through the ups and downs of this company.”

PLDT’s new president and CEO Alfredo Panlilio also praised her critical thinking and business acumen, essential traits in her role advising senior management.

Chua hoped her award would serve as inspiration for the next generation of finance executives.

“I have come to realize that by talking about my evolution and sharing the lessons I have learned, I can help others who are on a similar career path with similar aspirations,” she said.

—Miguel R. Camus INQ

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