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Subject: Definition of Criminal Law

Ient v. Prebon
G.R. no. 189158
January 11, 2017

Tullet Prebon, a competitor of petitioners, James Ient and Maharlika Schulze from
Tradition Asia, filed a complaint against the latter alleging that they conspired to cause an en
masse resignation from the company of the former and made them join the Tradition Asia. The
alleged acts complained were said to violate Sections 31 and 34 of the Corporation Code, and
makes them criminally liable under Section 144 of the same code.

Can each of the violations in the Corporation Code be treated the same as a criminal
offense in terms of criminal liability?

No. The Court held that, “there is no provision in the Corporation Code using similarly
emphatic language that evinces a categorical legislative intent to treat as a criminal offense each
and every violation of that law. Consequently, there is no compelling reason for the Court to
construe Section 144 as similarly employing them, “penalized,” or “penalty” solely in terms of
criminal liability.”
Moreover, the Corporation Code is a regulatory measure, and not a penal statute. The
Court further stated that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) construe “penalty” as
administrative sanctions. In the case at bar, it was ruled therefore that the petition is granted.