Saturday, May 25, 2024

SEC orders online multi-level group to stop offering digital currency

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has ordered Astrazion Noble Task Community Foundation, Astrazion Global Holdings Philippines Inc., and Astrazion International to stop offering their supposed digital currency through an illegal multilevel marketing platform.

Photo from Freepik.com

In an order dated May 12, the SEC directed the Astrazion Group to immediately cease and desist from engaging in the unauthorized solicitation of securities until it has filed the requisite registration statement and secured the necessary approval from the agency.

The Astrazion Group, its officers including Napoleon dela Cruz Visperas, Remus Pedroso Salgado, Joan Ganancial, Rolando Cadelario Oso, Francisco Gadayan Baladjay Jr., Pierre Martin D. Reyes, Esther M. Weigand, and Carol Joy Balbuena Visperas, as well as its enablers such as Christopher “Toffy” Dimaguila, have also been ordered to cease their Internet presence related to their unauthorized investment scheme.

The companies and their directors have likewise been prohibited from transacting any business involving funds in its depository banks, and from transferring any related assets to ensure the preservation of the assets of the investors.

The cease-and-desist order was issued after the SEC Enforcement and Investor Protection Department found that the Astrazion Group has been operating an online multi-level marketing platform where it actively promotes the sale of its digital currency called AZNT Token for 10 cents per token.

The group was found to be offering seven packages with guaranteed returns of 3% per day. The starter package worth $100 could yield $300 in 100 days, while the double platinum package guarantees a whopping $30,000 during the same period from an initial investment of $10,000.

The Astrazion Group enticed the public to invest by assuring members that the AZNT Tokens will be registered and listed as a cryptocurrency at Coin Market Cap, and will be traded in the digital currency trading platform Binance. The AZNT token’s value could allegedly rise to $10 from each its current price of 10 cents.

Aside from the supposed potential surge in value of the AZNT Token, the Astrazion Group also promised investors a residual income and direct referral income distribution. Payouts will then be released through the Coins.ph mobile app.

The scheme involves the sale and offer of securities to the public in the form of investment contracts, whereby a person invests his money in a common enterprise and is led to expect profits primarily from the efforts of others, according to the SEC.

“[T]he Commission agrees with the EIPD’s finding, and so holds that the Astrazion Group is engaged in the sale and/or offer of securities in the form of investment contracts in violation of Section 8 of the [Revised Corporation Code] because it has no license to carry out the same,” the order read.

Section 8 of Republic Act No. 8799, or The Securities Regulation Code (SRC), provides that securities shall not be sold or offered for sale or distribution within the Philippines, without a registration statement duly filed with and approved by the SEC.

Astrazion Global and Astrazion Foundation are duly registered corporations with the Commission. However, they have never secured a secondary license from the SEC as issuer of securities or broker dealer nor registered any securities for public offering pursuant to the SRC.

Meanwhile, Astrazion International is not registered with the SEC as a corporation, partnership, or one-person corporation. The SEC has issued an advisory against the Astrazion Group as early as February 3,

2022, in order to warn the public against investing in the group and similar entities.

“[T]he Commission finds that the Astrazion Group is willfully defrauding the investing public in its act of selling/offering AZNT Token and in promising a guaranteed return of 3% daily,” the SEC said.

“Mr. Visperas’ statement that the payouts being received by the current members of Astrazion Group is a blessing from the Lord and a foretaste of what is to come has all the more unmasked the true nature of Astrazion Group’s operate i.e. an investment scam which the Commission is duty bound to immediately stop.”

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