SEC summons Google over illegal online lending apps

Published October 11, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has summoned Google Philippines to a meeting on Monday, Oct. 14, in light of the proliferation of illegal online lending apps victimizing people and to discuss what restrictions they have to help stop these nefarious activities.

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In an interview at the sidelines of the Sustainability Forum organized by the P & A Grant Thornton, SEC Commissioner Atty. Kelvin Lester Lee said they are reaching out to Google to see if there is some form of standards or restrictions they impose on online lending apps.

“I am not familiar if they have restrictions or if they can set standards,” said Lee adding SEC has been very proactive against the mushrooming of these illegal operations. Lee said they are only meeting with Google Philippines, noting that Apple is more secure with its App Store.

“I am hoping they will cooperate with us and help us. It is a battle because right now we have so many victims which we at SEC are trying to help,” he said.
In fact, Lee said, he has one batch of roughly 100 people meeting with him and wanting to file a class suit against these illegal online lending apps.

According to Lee, SEC is going to issue another cease and desist order to 8 illegal online lending apps on top of the first batch of 30 that they shut down earlier. There would be another batch they are looking to issue the same order after the 8 apps.

With the issuance of the cease and desist order, these apps are no longer allowed to operate because in the first place they have no authority under the law.

The SEC crackdown against these illegal online lending apps, which have no license from SEC, is separate from the probe by the National Privacy Commission against online lending apps for breach of personal data privacy under the Data Privacy Act.

Some of these firms though, Lee said, have been referred to the NPC because it seems they have data privacy issue. But the SEC investigation is separate from the NPC, Lee said.

“These illegal apps have no SEC license at all so, we are shutting them down as quickly as we can, but there are some also that are legitimate and registered with SEC,” he said.

Lee refused to identify the nationality of these illegal online lending apps, but said that the ones who made phone calls are Filipinos since these illegal operations have also established call centers in the country.

The SEC has yet to determine how much these illegal operations have collected from their victims.

“I hope it is not in the billion peso level,” he said.