Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Ship captain convicted of estafa

THE COURT  of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the ruling of a Manila court convicting a ship captain for estafa after defrauding a local shipping company of PHP5 million to invest in a mining firm.

In a resolution dated November 18 and uploaded recently, the CA upheld its earlier decision against Moreno Estrada as the prosecution “proved beyond reasonable doubt all the elements of estafa with abuse of confidence".

In May, Estrada appealed the Jan. 15, 2021 decision of the CA which had affirmed the Manila Regional Trial Court’s (Branch 173) 2018 sentencing of the skipper to up to seven years behind bars.

The lower court also ordered Estrada to indemnify Philunion Shipping Inc. PHP4.5million and pay for the litigation costs.

Philunion sued Estrada in 2015, through its representative, Chinese national Jianlin Sun, who said they were defrauded by the accused to invest PHP5 million in a nickel mining business in Zambales with a promised substantial return on investment.

A few months after receiving the money, Estrada could not provide updates on the investment and upon demand by the investors, returned just PHP500,000 without offering an explanation.

Witnesses, including a hauling operator, testified that Estrada ran Candelaria Community Management Center, Inc. (CCMCI), a small-scale mining business, along with other partners in Zambales in 2012.

By 2013, buyers backed out from buying the nickel ores after tests showed that minerals were of low-grade quality.

CCMCI was originally contracted to mine 250 hectares.

"The legal presumption of misappropriation arose when appellant failed to present any accounting of the investment of Philunion, even after demand. It would have been different had appellate showed that the PHP5 million he received was actually used as capital in the mining business but that said business failed to realize profits due to certain unexpected events. Appellant however failed to do so during the course of the trial. Therefore, it is clear that the money given by Philunion was never used for its intended purpose, hence, misappropriated or converted by appellant," read the decision penned by Associate Justice Ronaldo Roberto Martin. (Benjamin Pulta)

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