MANILA, Philippines—“It was like a fiesta and everybody was happy,” a former agent of Aman Futures Group Inc. said of the early days of the company behind the multibillion peso scam that victimized up to 15,000 people from the Visayas and Mindanao.
Donna Coyme, who voluntarily submitted her statement to the National Bureau of Investigation and is now under protective custody, recalled how “bundles of cash in millions were being brought in and out of banks, sometimes in transparent plastic bags. But no one was robbed, everybody was happy.”
Because of the large number of bank transactions involving the Aman group, “the banks allotted dedicated tellers and desks for its investors,” she added.
Coyme told reporters that Aman Futures Group managers Fernando and Nimfa Luna would often ask her to stay after she had tutored their children, so she was able to witness transactions even beyond office hours.
The investors would bring their money to the Luna house “because banks were already closed,” she explained, adding that “the money were placed in a big vault inside the house.”
Asked where all that money came from, Coyme said that “investors, particularly the small ones, (would) take out loans from cooperatives and ask their relatives working abroad to borrow money and invest (in the company).”
She added that investors took out loans from local cooperatives that charged interest, thinking that the interest could easily be covered by the huge returns being offered by the Aman Group.
“Many people’s cooperatives have closed down,” Coyme said, “because members … could (no longer) make the payments.”
She said that due to her personal relationship with the Lunas, she was considered a VIP.
“I do not have to line up, and can come and go anytime inside the office,” she added.
But Coyme denied being the financial manager of the company, although she admitted being an agent representing at least 300 Aman investors, most of them teachers.
She admitted having profited from the company’s scheme, but said she also lost all her money “because it was reinvested using (her) relatives’ names.”
Still, Coyme said, “I feel that at that time, I owe (the Lunas) a debt of gratitude since I earned good money because of them.”
The Aman Futures agent said she decided to surrender to the NBI to “clear (her) name.”
“I am also a victim. I was seen helping the Lunas because I teach their children and it was inevitable that we became close,” said Coyme.