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SEC v. Interport Resources Corp

SEC v. Interport Resources Corp

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SEC v. Interport Resources Corporation GR No. 135808 October 6, 2008 J.

Chico-Nazario Nature: Petition for review on certiorari, under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, of a decision of the Court of Appeals Doctrines: No implementing rules were needed to render effective Sections 8, 30, and 36 of the Revised Securities Act; nor was the PED Rules of Practice and Procedure invalid, prior to the enactment of the Securities Regulations Code, for failure to provide parties with the right to cross-examine the witnesses presented against them. Thus, the respondents maybe investigated by the appropriate authority under the proper rules of procedure of the Securities Regulations Code for violations of Sections 8, 30, and 36 of the Revised Securities Act. Facts:

1) 6 Aug 1994 – Board of Directors of IRC approved a
Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with Ganda Holdings Berhad (GHB). a. Under the MoA, IRC acquired 100% or the entire capital stock of Ganda Energy Holdings, Inc. (GEHI), which would own and operate a 102 megawatt gas turbine power-generating barge. b. Also stipulated is that GEHI would assume a five-year power purchase contract with National Power Corp. At that time, GEHI’s power-generating barge was 97% complete and would go on-line by mid-Sept 1994. c. In exchange, IRC will issue to GHB 55% of the expanded capital stock of IRC (amounting to 40.88 billion shares – total par value of P488.44 million) d. On the side, IRC would acquire 67% of the entire capital stock of Philippine Racing Club, Inc. (PRCI). PRCI owns 25.724 hectares of real estate property in Makati. e. Under the Agreement, GHB, a member of the Westmont Group of Companies in Malaysia, shall extend or arrange a loan required to pay for the proposed acquisition by IRC of PRCI. 2) 8 Aug 1994 – IRC alleged that a press release announcing the approval of the agreement was sent through fax to Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE) and the SEC, but that the fax machine of SEC could not receive it. Upon the advice of SEC, IRC sent the press release on the morning of 9 Aug 1994. 3) SEC averred that it received reports that IRC failed to make timely public disclosures of its negotiations with GHB and that some of its directors heavily traded IRC shares utilizing this material insider information. 4) 16 Aug 1994 – SEC Chairman issued a directive requiring IRC to submit to SEC a copy of its aforesaid MoA with GHB and further directed all principal officers of IRC to appear at a hearing before the Brokers and Exchanges Dept (BED) of SEC to explain IRC’s

It found no statutory authority for SEC to initiate and file any suit for civil liability under Sec 8. since under Sec 8 of PD 902-A. 9) No formal hearings were conducted in connection with the Motions. Determined that there were no implementing rules and regulations regarding disclosure. jurisdiction was conferred upon the Prosecution and Enforcement Dept (PED) of SEC 8) IRC also claimed that SEC violated their right to due process when it ordered that the respondents appear before SEC and show cause why no administrative. and thus. shifted the burden of proof to the respondents. They filed a Motion for Continuance of Proceedings. 7) IRC filed an Omnibus Motion (later an Amended Omnibus Motion) alleging that SEC had no authority to investigate the subject matter. which effectively enjoined SEC from filing any criminal. Rule V of the Rules of Practice and Procedure before the PED affords a party the right to be present but without the right to cross-examine witnesses 2 . the SEC cannot be allowed to quash the assailed Omnibus Orders d. and to deny the Motion for Continuance for lack of merit.failure to immediately disclose the information as required by the Rules on Disclosure of Material Facts by Corporations Whose Securities are Listed in Any Stock Exchange or Registered/Licensed Under the Securities Act 5) IRC sent a letter to SEC. Further decided that the Rules of Practice and Procedure before the PED did not comply with the statutory requirements contained in the Administrative Code of 1997. 10) 25 Jan 1995 – SEC issued an Omnibus Order: creating a special investigating panel to hear and decide the case in accordance with Rules of Practice and Procedure before the PED. SEC. c. it ruled that no civil. It further resolved that absent any implementing rules. thus. in relation to Sec 36 of the Revised Securities Act. 12) 5 May 1995 – CA granted their motion and issued a writ of preliminary injunction. b. as amended by PD 1758. insider trading. or any of the provisions of the Revised Securities Acts which respondents allegedly violated. criminal or administrative proceedings may possibly be held against the respondents without violating their rights to due process and equal protection. to recall the show cause orders. 13) 20 Aug 1998 – CA promulgated a Decision a. 30 and 36 of the Revised Securities Act. civil or criminal sanctions should be imposed on them. civil or administrative case against the respondents. 11) Respondents filed a petition before the CA questioning the Omnibus Orders and filed a Supplemental Motion wherein they prayed for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction. Section 9. attaching copies of MoA and its directors appeared to explain IRC’s alleged failure to immediately disclose material information as required under the Rules on Disclosure of Material Facts. and that some of the officers and directors of IRC entered into transactions involving IRC shares in violation of Sec 30. 6) 19 Sept 1994 – SEC Chairman issued an Order finding that IRC violated the Rules on Disclosure when it failed to make timely disclosure.

30. Section 8 of PD 902-A. and 36 of the Revised Securities Act require the enactment of implementing rules to make them binding and effective? No. Thus. the PED has been abolished. and 36 of the Revised Securities Act? Yes. and 36 of the Revised Securities Act (RSA) do not require the enactment of implementing rules to make them binding and effective. Issues: 1. • Every law has in its favour the presumption of validity. Chap 3.presented against him. where a reasonable construction that will support the law may be given. under the new law. 30. which may concern Secs 30 and 36 of RSA. * It should be noted that while the case was pending in SC. Does the instant case prescribed already? No. May a criminal case still be filed against the respondents despite the repeal of Sections 8. Did SEC retain the jurisdiction to investigate violations of the Revised Securities Act. RA 8799 (Securities Regulation Code) took effect on 8 August 2000. • The mere absence of implementing rules cannot effectively invalidate provisions of law. the provisions are legal and binding. 5. Unless and until a specific provision of the law is declared invalid and unconstitutional. 2. 4. Ruling: The petition is impressed with merit. 30. Is CA justified in denying SEC’s Motion for Leave to Quash SEC Omnibus Orders? Yes. Do sections 8. which created the PED. as amended. 3. re-enacted in the Securities Regulations Code. 6. despite the abolition of the PED? Yes. Book VII of the Administrative Code. in violation of Sec 12(3). Does the right to cross-examination be demanded during investigative proceedings before the PED? No. • Absence of any constitutional or statutory infirmity. • The Court does not discern any vagueness or ambiguity in Sec 30 and 36 of RSA o Sec 30 – Insider’s duty to disclose when trading  Insiders are obligated to disclose material information to the other party or abstain from trading the shares of his corporation. This duty to disclose or abstain is based on two factors: 3 . was already repealed as provided for in Sec 76 of Securities Regulation Code. On the merits: 1) Sections 8. the same is valid and binding for all intents and purposes. and the Securities Regulation Code has taken the place of the Revised Securities Act.

determination of necessity of hearing and disposition of case. the undisclosed information should not be improperly used for non-corporate purposes. the existence of a relationship giving access. particularly to disadvantage other persons with whom an insider might transact. it was within the discretion of the Hearing Officer whether there was a need for a formal hearing 4 . directly or indirectly. a beneficial owner of more than 10 percent of any class of any equity security or 2. Where such reasons exist. Rule 1 of the PED Rules of Practice and Procedure. however.1.  In some cases. the inherent unfairness involved when a party takes advantage of such information knowing it is unavailable to those with whom he is dealing. a director or any officer of the issuer of such security the obligation to submit a statement indicating his or her ownership of the issuer’s securities and such changes in his or her ownership. officers and principal stockholders  A straightforward provision that imposes upon: 1. committed when an insider. At the same time. o A formal hearing was not mandatory. to information intended to be available only for a corporate purpose and not for the personal benefit of anyone 2. from taking advantage of an uninformed public. • Sections 30 and 36 of the RSA were enacted to promote full disclosure in the securities market and prevent unscrupulous individuals. takes advantage of an uninformed investor. • Sec 4. there may be valid corporate reasons for nondisclosure of material information. who by their positions obtain non-public information.  The intent of the law is the protection of investors against fraud. • The lack of implementing rules cannot suspend the effectivity of these provisions. o Sec 36 – Directors. categorically stated that the proceedings before the PED are summary in nature. while Sec 36 allowed the Sec to monitor the transactions entered into by corporate officers and directors as regards the securities of their companies. using secret information. 2) The right to cross-examination is not absolute and cannot be demanded during investigative proceedings before the PED. not necessarily adhering to or following the technical rules of evidence obtaining in the courts of law • Rule V – Submission of documents. and therefore the insider must abstain from entering into transactions involving such securities. an issuer’s decision not to make any public disclosures is not ordinarily considered as a violation of insider trading. • Sec 30 prevented the unfair use of non-public information in securities transactions.

• The legislature had not intended to deprive the courts of their authority to punish a person charged with violation of the old law that was repealed 4) The SEC retained the jurisdiction to investigate violations of the Revised Securities Act. 30. o Sec 30 of RSA has been re-enacted as Sec 27 of SRC. while the SEC nevertheless retains limited 5 . • Chapter 3. to comply with the due process requirements. then the right to cross-examination could not have been demanded by either party. o The only powers which the PED was likely to exercise over the respondents were investigative in nature • In proceedings before administrative or quasi-judicial bodies. created under laws which authorize summary proceedings. They are not bound by technical rules of procedure and evidence. was expanded under Sec 12 of the Securities Regulations Code. PED Rules of Practice need not comply with the provisions of the Administrative Code on adjudication. despite the abolition of the PED. • Sec 53 of SRC clearly provides that criminal complaints for violations of rules and regulations enforced or administered by SEC shall be referred to the DOJ for preliminary investigation. such as NLRC and POEA. • The law creating PED empowers it to investigate violations of the rules and regulations promulgated by the SEC and to file and prosecute such cases. Book VII of the Administrative Code refers to “Adjudication” and does not affect the investigatory functions of the agencies. It is enough that every litigant be given reasonable opportunity to appear and defend his right and to introduce relevant evidence in his favour. for the purpose of protecting public investors o Sec 23 of SRC was practically lifted from Sec 36 of RSA. re-enacted in the Securities Regulations Code. and 36 of the Revised Securities Act since said provisions were reenacted in the new law. • when the repealing law punishes the act previously penalized under the old law. o It fails to mention any adjudicatory functions insofar as the PED is concerned. still penalizing an insider’s misuse of material and non-public information about the issuer. the act committed before the re-enactment continues to be an offense and pending cases are not affected. decisions may be reached on the basis of position papers or other documentary evidence only. Further details of the information required to be disclosed by the registrant are explained.o Since the holding of a hearing before the PED is discretionary. 3) The Securities Regulation Code (SRC) did not repeal Sections 8. Thus. o Sec 8 of RSA. which previously provided for the registration of securities and the information that needs to be included in the registration statements.

they reasoned that prescription set in as early as 2006 and rendered this case moot. • It is an established doctrine that a preliminary investigation interrupts the prescription period. throw a monkey wrench right into the heart of the securities industry – when someone trades in the market with unfair advantage in the form of highly valuable secret inside information. 30. for failure to provide parties with the right to cross-examine the witnesses presented against them. 3326 are judicial proceedings and not administrative proceedings. 30. and whether there is probable cause for the accused to have committed as offense. 6 . prior to the enactment of the Securities Regulations Code. SEC may still impose the appropriate administrative sanctions under Sec 54. The criminal charges may proceed separately and independently of the administrative proceedings.investigatory powers. J. Tinga – concurring opinion • Manipulative devices and deceptive practices. A preliminary investigation is essentially a determination whether an offense has been committed. including insider trading. SC – petition granted J. and 36 of the Revised Securities Act. CA denied SEC’s motion for leave to quash SEC Omnibus Orders. all other participants are defrauded. the SC rules that no implementing rules were needed to render effective Sections 8. Contrary to the majority opinion’s claim that “a preliminary investigation interrupts the prescriptive period. nor was the PED Rules of Practice and Procedure invalid. 6) The CA was justified in denying SEC’s Motion for Leave to Quash SEC Omnibus Orders dated 23 October 1995. and 36 of the Revised Securities Act. Thus. the respondents maybe investigated by the appropriate authority under the proper rules of procedure of the Securities Regulations Code for violations of Secs 8. • Respondents point out that the prescription period applicable to offenses punished under special laws is 12 years. Carpio – dissenting opinion • Proceedings referred to in Sec 2 of Act No. Since the offense was committed in 1994. In all. 5) The instant case has not yet prescribed. • Since it found other issues that were more important than whether or not the PED was the proper body to investigate the matter.“ only the institution of judicial proceedings can interrupt the running of the prescriptive period.

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