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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Goliath on the run

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This case will be, either way, a precedent setting, a landmark for future lawyers, MBAs, and legislators to study

Having written about foreign-funded efforts to influence our national foreign policies, let me shift this time to an issue about a particular foreign-owned private company, Fujifilm Philippines trying to influence our procurement procedures.

This should focus our attention to the wider question of giving foreigners fewer restrictions in our Constitution.

Reports say Presiding Judge Maria Cheryl Laqui-Cequera of the Pasig Regional Trial Court Branch 268 has “ordered the immediate arrest of the suspects identified as Ryo Nagaoka, Evan Reyes, Anil Jacob John alias “Anil John,” John Paul Camarillo, Dinesh Mehra and Eric Koh for violation of Article 315 (2) a) of the Revised Penal Code. Atul Agrawal has been added.

The case against the Fujifilm Philippines officials stemmed from a complaint filed by Sunfu Solutions Inc. at the City Prosecutor’s Office of Pasig which accused the six of criminal fraud and deceit by issuing a First Tier Distributor Certificate dated Jan. 6, 2022 which reportedly authorized Sunfu Solutions to distribute Fujifilm medical equipment for the OFW Hospital and Diagnostic Center in Pampanga but turned out to be a sham as Fujifilm all along supported another bidder.

The assumption in the peanut gallery is money exchanged hands for the hijacking of the authority to sell.

What is interesting is the manner by which Fujifilm Philippines and Fujifilm Asia Pacific supposedly engineered the fraud.

The court submissions in the Philippines and even in Singapore reveal the email and Whatsapp conversations between the foreign company Fujifilm and the Philippine company, Sunfu Solutions,.

The transcript shows the foreign official in Singapore Anil Jacob John, then Managing Director of Fujifilm Asia Pacific, cheerfully revealing what he calls a “betrayal” of the local company, unafraid of the consequences for himself and his company of such a blatant evidence of fraud.

This seems to be an open and shut case, but, more importantly, it shows how giant foreign companies blatantly violate our laws, thinking they can easily get away with it.

Imagine a Managing Director of a major global company, Anil Jacob John, openly admitting in Whatsapp their motivation for the criminal plot.

The Regional Trial Court Branch 268 and Presiding Judge Maria Cheryl Laqui-Cequera immediately set the case for clarificatory hearing.

Sensing trouble, Fujifilm immediately hired the largest legal team in the Philippines.

Sycip, Salazar, Hernandez, and Gatmaitan Law Firm entered their appearance on the same date as the hearing .

The companies in this legal battle, and their respective lawyers show the David vs. Goliath proportions of this story.

There is no heavier artillery in a legal battle than the oldest law firm in the country to fight against a lean mid-sized law firm.

It is a battle tank to use against what surely was previously perceived by Fujifilm as a mere mosquito.

This is an important case that business journalists and our legislators must closely study and observe.

This case is illustrative of the kind of foreign capital or foreign-owned companies we must guard against.

News reports of the Japanese expatriate, Ryo Nagaoka, who was the country manager of Fujifilm fleeing the country upon hearing of the estafa case filed by the Office of the City Prosecutor, leaving his Filipino counterparts behind, is further proof how easily these companies can evade our flawed justice system.

Reports have it that Aceron and Attorneys are contacting their counterparts in Singapore and Japan to find a way to extradite Ryo Nagaoka, Anil Jacob John alias Anil Jacob, Eric Koh, Atul Agrawal, Dinesh Mehra.

This case will be, either way, a precedent setting, a landmark for future lawyers, MBAs, and legislators to study.

Now comes information that Sunfu Solutions filed with the Court of Appeals for its anti-competitive behavior.

We can only hope the Philippine Competition Council heed the call to widen its definition of anti-competitive acts, as this case shows it like no other.

Haruto Iwata is being held to account, including local representative Masahiro Uehara, who already has a civil case in Quezon City, for obstruction of justice: they knowingly allowed Ryo Nagaoka to escape accountability.

Cases take forever in our judicial system, but the determination of the complainant is clear — to get some executives in handcuffs one day. (rpkapunan@gmail.com)

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