The Philippines doesn't make a lot of news in the securities enforcement world. When the Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission does prosecute and convict someone for a major securities fraud, however, it doesn't play around!
The Philippine Star reported this week that Rosario Baladjay, known in the Philippines as the “Queen of Pyramiding,” was sentenced to "at least 455 years in prison" for 65 counts of violations of the Securities Regulation Code (SRC). The court sentenced Baladjay to seven years in prison for each of the 65 counts, and also found her and her late husband civilly liable in the amount of P8 million (approx. U.S. $168,000).
Baladjay's Multinational Telecom Investors Corp. was reportedly found to have defrauded hundreds of investors of approximately P20 million in a pyramid scheme. According to the Philippine Star, Baladjay may have gotten of light with her 455 year sentence because the SEC had an additional 62 separate counts that it wanted to pursue. Lalaine Monserate, assistant director for the Philippines SEC’s Enforcement and Investor Protection Department, explained that the SEC held off on these additional counts "because many of the complainants have refused to continue with the case because it had already dragged on for so long and they believe that their money will no longer be returned.”
Baladjay's 455-year sentence is over three times as long as that handed down to U.S. Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff, who was sentenced to 150 years in prison.