MANILA -- The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Wednesday filed a criminal complaint before the Department of Justice (DoJ) against agri-business firm Calata Corporation.

In its complaint, SEC said the firm violated Section 24 of Republic Act 8799, known as the Securities Regulation Code for making false and misleading statements about the green lighting of the botched Mactan Leisure City project which helped the company boost its share prices at the stock exchange.

SEC Enforcement and Investor Protection Director Jose Aquino filed the complaint against the respondents Calata executives, namely, its president Joseph Calata; chief financial officer Benison Paul De Torres; and board of directors ConradoZablan, Johnny Uy, Halmond Parker Ong, and Edmund Solilapsi.

The complaint was filed after the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) delisted the firm also for violations of the PSE disclosure rules.

The SEC official explained the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) already turned down Calata’s licensing application since PAGCOR was already operating a casino at Waterfront Hotel and Casino in Mactan, Cebu.

“It is unlawful for any person to make false or misleading statement with respect to any material fact which he knew or had reasonable ground to believe was so false or misleading for the purpose of inducing the purchase or sale of any security listed or traded at the exchange,” said Aquino who cited Section 24 of the Securities and Regulations Code.

Aquino explained Calata had publicly declared that its gaming license for the Mactan Leisure City, a casino and entertainment complex in Cebu, is expected to be out by the end of 2017 and will commence operation in 2020.

He said Calata’s disclosure resulted in a 28.16 percent increase in the price of the firm’s shares and an increase in the volume in the shares traded.

Aquino said if convicted those accused face a penalty ranging from PHP50,000 to PHP5 million or imprisonment ranging from seven to 21 years. (PNA)