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SEC warns against Masa Mart investment schemes

THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has advised the public not to invest or stop investing in any scheme offered by Masa Mart Business Center after it has solicited investments without proper registration.

In an advisory posted on its website, the SEC said Masa Mart and its other entities such as Masa Mart Business Center OPC and Masa Mart Enterprise OPC are not authorized to solicit investments since they have not secured the necessary approval from the government.

The corporate regulator said Masa Mart and its entities have registrations with the SEC and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as a one-person corporation, but need a different license to solicit investments.

“Such registrations merely grant juridical personalities to the entities but do not authorize them to issue, sell or offer for sale securities to the public nor undertake business activities requiring a secondary license from the commission,” the SEC said.

The SEC said it issued an advisory in April 2020, which also warned the public from investing in TBCMMP Masa Mart, Inc., due to its unauthorized subscription and gains program.

However, the commission said it had found out that Masa Mart Business Center and its related entities have implemented the same scheme and offers almost the same compensation plan as TBCMMP.

“Under this program, a member may invest for as low as P1,250 up to P500 million and promises, depending on the selected lock-in period (i.e., 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year), a return ranging from P2,746 up to P11.65 billion, respectively,” the SEC said.

“Similar to the TBCMMP scheme, a subscription entitles the investor to a ‘gain’ ranging from 30% monthly up to 2,561.81% per annum,” it added.

Further, the SEC said Masa Mart Business Center and its related entities also offer cryptocurrency, namely: the United Masa Coin or the XUM Coin. It is promoted via a software-controlled application called UmcUSDTbot.

However, the commission said Masa Mart and its related entities do not appear among the registered banks, exchanges or companies engaged in digital assets with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

“Both United Masa Coin and XUM are also not included among the list of the generally accepted virtual currencies posted on the World Coin Index and Coin Market Cap websites,” the SEC said.

“It appears that no open exchanges allow the trading of United Masa Coin and XUM, so Masa Mart seemingly manages its own digital exchange platform contrary to the law,” it added.

Other programs offered by Masa Mart include the “P5,888 combo package,” where the investment gains P20,000 after six months, and a rollover program that promises an income of P100,000 to P12 million after two years.

According to the SEC, persons who invite or recruit members to join or invest in Masa Mart’s venture may be criminally charged in violation of Republic Act No. 8799 or the Securities Regulation Code, and can face penalties such as a fine of up to P5 million, a 21-year imprisonment, or both.

BusinessWorld sought the side of Masa Mart Business Center, which has not given a comment as of deadline time. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

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