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Alphaland lodges criminal complaint vs Ashmore execs

By Neil Jerome C. Morales (The Philippine Star) | Updated January 23, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The rift between London-based Ashmore Group and the group of former Trade Minister Roberto V. Ongpin has turned more bitter as the management of upscale property developer Alphaland lodged a criminal complaint against officers of its erstwhile partner.

In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange, Alphaland said its management filed a criminal complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accusing two executives of the British fund manager of violating the Securities Regulation Code.

“This criminal complaint is a natural consequence of our disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange and the SEC as well as the Financial Conduct Authority of London regarding the misrepresentation,” Alphaland said.

Early this week, the property firm said Ashmore Group misrepresented the sale of P942 million worth of shares of Alphaland to comply with the minimum public ownership requirement.

“Recently, Ashmore Group’s senior management found out that the said sale of 2.5 percent of Alphaland was simulated as then and now, Ashmore Group continues to own the block,” Alphaland said.

In its criminal compliant, the upscale property developer said Ashmore Group executive Thomas Donnelly revealed in a letter to San Miguel Corp. that the 2.5-percent stake is still controlled by the British fund manager.
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Another Ashmore Group executive, Alexandra Autrey, was included in the criminal complaint for signing on Jan. 2, 2013 a disclosure declaring that Alphaland Holdings (Singapore) Pte. Ltd. sold 49.6 million Alphaland shares to Credit Suisse (Singapore) Ltd.

“If found guilty by a Philippine court, the Ashmore Group officers may be sentenced to a prison term ranging from seven to 21 years,” Alphaland said.

The Ongpin Group earlier secured majority ownership in Alphaland Corp. after a P1.5-billion capital call that was ignored by its London-based partner and a P1.39-billion property swap.

In exchange for a 68-hectare lot in Itogon, Benguet, Alphaland issued new shares. It will be the site of the Alphaland Baguio Mountain Log Homes project.

“After the property swap and the capital call were implemented on Jan. 20, there is no longer any uncertainty on the controlling shareholder of Alphaland,” the company said.

“With the certainty in the majority ownership of the company, Alphaland management is confident that it will now be able to line up the cash required to complete Alphaland’s existing projects as well as to fund its future projects,” it added.

The property firm said it suffered from funding difficulties on news of Ashmore Group’s decision to divest from Alphaland.

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