Perpetrators, investors of illegal financial schemes to face the law: BNM (Updated)

PETALING JAYA: Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has warned that action can be taken against perpetrators, and even investors, of illegal financial schemes, following controversies surrounding JJ Poor to Rich (JJPTR) and other money game operators.

The central bank said it views the matter seriously and will not hesitate to enforce the law against perpetrators and promoters of such schemes.

These include using the Penal Code, Interest Schemes Act 2016, Direct Sales and Anti-Pyramid Scheme Act 1993, and the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.

"Under the law, action can also be taken against investors who knowingly promote and participate in the illegal schemes," it said in a statement today.

BNM said an inter-agency initiative, led by the Attorney-General's Chambers under the National Coordination Committee to counter money laundering, has been set up to pursue joint action on financial fraud and scams.

BNM has cautioned the public not to participate in schemes that promise unrealistically high returns, interest rates or profits.

"The public should refer to BNM's financial consumer alert that lists companies that are neither authorised nor approved under the relevant laws and regulations administered by the central bank," it said.

It added the financial institutions and money services business providers have been directed to heighten their vigilance in detecting the accounts that are used by the perpetrators of financial scams, and identify suspicious transactions and fund flows.

JJPTR has recently found itself under the spotlight after it claimed its trading account was hacked and lost up to RM500 million, forcing its headquarters to shut down and its members to lose their investments.

Its founder Johnson Lee subsequently vowed to come up with a new scheme to raise funds to repay investors.

"I hope all members can give me until May 1, this plan can save members who have suffered losses," he said in a voice message posted on the company's Facebook page on April 25, with a teaser video later posted on May 2, purportedly of its new scheme.

However, the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry has said all businesses such as money games, get-rich-quick, forex and ponzi schemes under the guise of direct-selling businesses and multi-level marketing are not allowed in the country.

Police are also investigating JJPTR, following a report made in Johor.

"The police have only received one report on the matter and will investigate the case under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating," said Bukit Aman Commercial Crimes Investigation Department (CCID) director Comm Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani.