Mallaris out on bail, court date set March 28

Community News & Features Mar 8, 2019 at 5:32 pm
Jess and Tess Mallari

Jess and Tess Mallari

By Mila Astorga-Garcia
The Philippine Reporter

TORONTO–Around a dozen people attended a Newmarket Courthouse last February 28, 2019, expecting to see Jesus and Teresita Mallari at their first scheduled court appearance. The couple owned Mabini Express – a financial transfer company in Vaughan.

The Mallaris are suspects in several alleged fraud cases involving more than $300,000, victimizing a total of 36 victims, according to the York Regional Police, who included some of the courthouse attendees.

The Mallaris are currently out on bail with conditions to remain in Canada. They were arrested on January 28 in Vancouver with a Canada-wide warrant of arrest.

From left: Josie Vina, Rosalie Anajao and unidentified victim.

From left: Josie Vina, Rosalie Anajao and unidentified victim. (Photo: HG)

The Mallaris, however, did not personally show up in court, according to a Court Clerk interviewed by The Philippine Reporter, but was represented by their counsel.  Their next court date is scheduled March 28, 2019, at the same Newmarket Court.

Although disappointed, the victims said they would continue following up the case with the hope that they can recover the funds that the Mallaris had allegedly taken from them.

In January 2018, York Regional Police began an investigation after receiving a report from a victim who had advised that she had used the company Mabini Express to transfer funds to family in the Philippines, according to a police media release.

“Several days later the victim learned that her family had not received the money…When the victim attended Mabini Express she discovered a sign stating the business was permanently closed,” the police statement said.

That was when the York Regional Police started receiving additional reports from the other victims, prompting it to issue Canada-wide warrants for the arrest of both suspects who had reportedly gone into hiding.

On January 28, 2019, a year after police started their fraud investigation, the Mallari couple were arrested in Vancouver by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Vancouver Detachment.  On Feb. 2, the Financial Crimes Unit Investigators went to the Vancouver International Airport and took custody of the accused parties, and returned them to York Region to face multiple charges,  that include the following: “Fraud over $5,000; Uttering forged document x 4; Forgery x 4.”

Although she did not see the Mallari couple in court that morning, one of the victims, Josie Vina, a professional support worker for people with special needs, said she was determined to follow up on the case until justice is rendered.

Vina said she had entrusted to the Mallaris $10,000 to send home to family in the Philippines, partly to help her family – her sick uncle, father and sister —  and partly to continue to help local schools build libraries, a mission she had started a few years back. “I was also intending to set aside part of the fund for my own expenses when I go back to the Philippines, because I do need the money just to go around when I visit.”
When she started to wonder why her money was not received by the intended recipients for quite a while, she found out Mabini Express had closed down.  Shocked but determined to get back her money which she said were hard earned funds from her own income, she connected with the other victims who are now an informally-organized group pursuing justice for their cases.

Another victim who attended court had reportedly lost $100,000 to the Mallaris when he entrusted them the money for the purpose of investing in the business.

Monica Penarroyo who also attended the court said she lost $80,000 which she sent to Manila using Mabini Express remittance services. She said the amount, sent in four batches, was intended as payment for a property which she and her husband bought.

According to her, they sent the money on December 5, 2017, which, she was told by the Mallaris would be received in two weeks but it didn’t arrive as promised. Every time she would call to follow up she was told it might take time because it was a big amount but it will arrive in small amounts. She protested because she said she gave the amount in full at one time. She was promised it would arrive. Then on the third Monday of January, she and her husband found Mabini’s Eglinton and Vaughan offices were closed.

Penarroyo, who is an owner of Can/Asian Food variety store in Brampton, was an agent of Mabini Express for ten years. She was disappointed because she trusted the Mallaris for a long time and often gave them blank cheques for the transfer of customer remittances intended for their families in the Philippines. She said she tried to file a case in court but her lawyer advised her against it because the Mallaris reportedly had transferred their properties.

She said she wants justice and her money back.

(With files from Irish Mae Silvestre and interviews by Hermie Garcia and author)