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The bet is Legacy boss will escape conviction

POSTSCRIPT By Federico D. Pascual Jr. 
Updated March 12, 2009 12:00 AM
The Philippine Star

CLARK FIELD (PLDT/We Roam) — When asked what I think would happen to Legacy empire builder Celso de los Angeles, if he would be convicted of syndicated estafa, I invariably answer, “No, nothing of that sort will happen, not here in the Philippines.”

Pardon my cynicism, but if some people think the double-your-money artist, who has amassed a fortune from gullible investors with the kind assist of government regulators, would go to jail or have his fingers cut off, I am afraid they would be disappointed.

The finance whiz kid and his lawyers are light years ahead of us in planning not only the investment scheme that has grossed him billions, but also his legal defense and escape route when the props and the scaffoldings come crashing down.

To get even or get back their investment, the well-heeled among his victims may try spending more money researching if De los Angeles has violated any United States law and if he has substantial assets in the US — and then sue him there.

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PROVE IT!: Private victims themselves will have to do the pursuing, because the government — some of whose officials are in cahoots with crooks — will not do it for the ordinary citizen.

So all that sound and fury in the Legacy hearings in the Senate, plus the advertised promise of Sen. Mar Roxas that swindling victims can make sumbong to him and be vindicated, may all be for naught? I think so.

The Senate, a legislative chamber, can only write an investigation report and propose prosecution or remedial legislation.

There is this loose nut in our legal machinery called “due process” which means that anybody accused of a crime is presumed innocent until convicted with finality by the highest court of the land after a tedious process that is susceptible to human frailties.

De los Angeles and his co-accused, like many other operators before him, will just put up the “Prove it!” legal defense that has been honed to perfection by Arroyo officials under fire. This stops in their tracks all pursuers, who often lack airtight evidence.

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BOUNCED BACK: Remember that De los Angeles is a veteran and has connections.

Years ago, after being linked to some banking anomalies, he was reportedly banned from ever holding a responsible position in any bank. He went abroad and lay low.

When he returned, presumably wizened, he was able to go back to banking almost with a vengeance. He did better than merely holding key positions in a bank — he managed to own a string of rural banks spread like a fishing net cast in rich waters.

How he was able to bounce back to banking has not been explained.

He also went into the pre-need business whose profitability and virtual immunity from close supervision and prosecution was shown in recent scandals that saw the Arroyo administration reduced to a mere onlooker, if not coddler.

Under the circumstances, how do we go after somebody like a De los Angeles?

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March 12, 2009 - Posted by | Columns and Editorials | ,

1 Comment »

  1. Try this. The legal strategy is to sue on a civil case only, seeking preliminary attachment asap. In a civil case, you can get more evidence through discovery.
    But plaintiffs have to have “clean hands,” since in a Ponzi, some investors are accomplices and/or accessories. Docket fees are a problem, but if you are serious, that’s the price of the system. Good luck!

    Comment by Peaceful lawyer | March 12, 2009

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