SEC files criminal complaint vs. Calata Corp.

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Joseph Calata is the President and CEO of Calata Corporation.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 9) — The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed at the Justice Department on Wednesday a criminal complaint against agribusiness firm Calata Corporation.

The SEC slapped the Calata Corp., its officers, and its directors with the violation of the Securities Regulation Code for alleged market manipulation and "false and misleading" statements about their partnership to build and operate the ₱65-billion Mactan Leisure City Resort and Casino in Cebu.

According to SEC Enforcement and Investor Protection director Jose Aquino, Calata Corp. had filed a disclosure at the SEC and Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) regarding the establishment of the resort, even as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) had denied the company's licensing application for the project when the statements were made.

Aquino said the company made it appear as if they would receive a license for the project, which would be fully operational by 2020.

"There was no disclose. So when the disclosure came they made it appear as if there was still that plan. In fact the disclose was in 2017 they would be able to receive license, and by 2020 it would be fully operationalize. That is why we are filing a case," Aquino said.

Following news of the partnership, the price of CALATA shares rose roughly 28 percent to ₱3.55 per share compared to ₱2.77 the day before.

"The evidence shows that investors traded CALATA shares in reaction to the disclosure concerning the establishment of the ₱64 billion Mactan Leisure Cty Project," the complaint said.

The SEC is accusing the company of market manipulation under section 24 (d) and making false statements in a SEC report under section 54.1 (c) in relation to sections 17 and 54.2 of the Securities Regulation Code.

The SEC's complaint comes after the Philippine Stock Exchange announced in a November 7 memo it had decided to delist Calata Corp. for violation of its disclosure rules.

Trading for the company, which has been suspended since June 30, 2017, will remain on hold until the effective date of delisting, PSE added.

Calata Corporation is one of the country's biggest agricultural conglomerates.

According to its website, it is the "largest retailer and distributor of top agrochemical brands, feeds, fertilizers, veterinary medicines and seeds throughout the country."