Estafa case vs Brown, promoter to proceed – De Lima
The preliminary investigation of the estafa (swindling) case against American RnB recording artist Chris Brown filed by the influential Iglesia ni Cristo would proceed despite the singer’s departure from the Philippines, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said
“Of course, the preliminary investigation will proceed [whether he’s around or not] since there is a complaint. It will have to go through the process,” De Lima told reporters last Friday.
The estafa complaint against Brown and his promoter Michael Pio Rada has been assigned to investigator Christine Buencamino who would then issue subpoenas, the head of the Department of Justice added.
The two were sued last July 21 by the Maligaya Development Corp., operator of the INC-owned Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, which contracted Brown to sing at the venue last New Year’s eve for US$1 million.
Brown did not show up at the concert, prompting MDC to lodge a complaint against Brown and Rada for violation of Article 314 paragraph 2(a) or estafa by deceit. The MDC claimed it had already paid Brown and Rada’s company, Pinnacle Live Concepts Inc., US$882,500 (about P40 million).
Asked if the preliminary investigation would continue even if Brown, who left Manila last Friday, opted not to participate, De Lima replied, “Yes, he may ignore the subpoena.”
The DOJ chief pointed out that the preliminary investigation was “not a compulsory process,” although the respondent’s failure or refusal to participate in the proceedings, would be considered as a waiver of his right to answer the allegations in the complaint.
De Lima said government prosecutors could avail of other legal measures should the investigating prosecutor recommend the filing of a case in court against Brown.
“These is a process. If in the preliminary investigation, probable cause is established, then the case will be filed in court, which cannot proceed without the presence of the accused. There are modes on how to bring the accused here like the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty or extradition,” she explained.
The Secretary explained that the estafa case filed against Brown and Roda had a civil aspect.
In the criminal case of estafa, De Lima said that the respondents’ intent to defraud the Maligaya company must be established, adding, “But in estafa cases the main objective is how to recover the money so there is also the civil aspect that may involve the recovery of money via a civil suit.”
De Lima, however, said she did not want to comment further on case as it would be up to the prosecutor, the complainant and the private lawyer to decide how the suit would proceed.
MDC, in its complaint, said it suffered embarrassment and publicly scrutiny as fans who had already bought tickets became angry over the concert’s cancelation. The company, however did not seek the award of damages.
Brown arrived in Manila, last Monday, for another concert, this time at a mall in Pasay City.
The following day, however, he was prevented from leaving after MDC chief operating officer and INC legal counsel Glicerio Santos IV sought De Lima’s assistance in prosecuting the singer.
The Bureau of Immigration later issued a lookout bulletin order against Brown, who was required to seek clearance before being allowed to depart.
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