Cops arrest three 'Datuks' over ponzi scheme involving RM1b

KUALA LUMPUR: Three alleged schemers, all with the honorific title of Datuk were arrested by police last week for fleecing over 70,000 investors of an estimated RM1 billion in a "money game" or Ponzi scheme called FX United.

The trio were picked up in undisclosed locations in Brickfields and other areas in the city in simultaneous raids on Saturday by the federal police commercial crimes investigations department (CCID).

However, the suspected mastermind of the scheme who is also a Datuk and his wife are still at large after they absconded on learning of the police operation.

The couple are believed to have gone into hiding in Thailand.

The scheme was promoted in typical fashion similar to other such illegal investment plans where the suspects lured investors through seminars at plush hotels, formal agreements and name-dropping.

The schemers led a life of luxury, splurging on fast cars, plush properties and branded personal accessories such as watches and leather bags.

Federal police CCID director Commissioner Datuk Seri Amar Singh Ishar Singh said today that schemers formed FX United in 2013 and promoted it as a foreign exchange investment plan, promising investors up to 12% in returns per month.

He said the scheme lasted until Aug 2016 before winding up and leaving its investors in the lurch.

"We received 116 police reports nationwide with losses amounting to RM6.2 million between Aug, 2016 and Feb this year that was lodged by victims against the company. However, our investigations showed that there are more than 70,000 victims who suffered losses exceeding RM1 billion," Amar Singh told a press conference today.

He said police opened 30 investigation papers to investigate FX United and conducted the raids on four locations here on Saturday night where the three men who have Datuk titles and are aged between 35 and 49 were held.

Amar Singh said police seized from the suspect 13 luxury cars including a Ferrari, three high-powered motorcycles including Harley Davidsons, gold wafers, luxury watches and branded bags, all estimated to be worth RM3.3 million

Also confiscated by the raiding party were the Datukship medals of the three suspects and piles of documents related to the case.

He said police also froze 38 bank accounts belonging to 17 people and a RM5.5 million bungalow.

"The seizures we made are worth about RM10.5 million. The three Datuk are in our custody and will be held under preventive laws for investigations. We are looking for a Datuk and his wife whom we believe is the main player in the scheme and is believed to have fled to a neighbouring country," he said.

He said the highest single loss reported by a victim amounted to "a couple of hundred thousand" ringgit.

He urged victims who are yet to lodge reports against the company to do so for police to investigate their cases.

Asked if there was hope for the victims in recovering their losses, Amar Singh said, "They can. We will open the investigation papers and forfeit the properties the schemers have and put up charges against them."

Amar Singh who has pledged to mow down those behind Ponzi-based investments schemes since taking over as CCID director in Oct last year said police are going on an all-out blitz to put an end to the matter.

There are hundreds of such investment plans in the country which are blacklisted by Bank Negara.

Amar Singh urged those with information on Datuk Pandeyan a/l Maruthamuthu, aged 56, (MyKad: 610108086335) last known address - 52, Jalan 17/55c, Bukit Jalil Integrated Business Park, KL and Gouri a/p Faskuny, aged 55 (MyKad: 621005045964), last known address- 5, Jalan Seri Jalil, Seri Jalil Township, Bukit Jalil to contact the nearest police station.

On a separate case, Amar Singh said a special task force investigating the losses of RM31.5 billion suffered by Bank Negara Malaysia in foreign exchange dealings in the early 1990s has to date recorded statements from 27 individuals since a police report was lodged by the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the matter on Nov 30 last year.

He said they are 19 Bank Negara staff, five Ministry of Finance staff and three other individuals. He said there are more witnesses who are expected to be summoned to have their statements recorded. Asked on when police believe the case probe will be completed, Amar Singh said police are unable to give a time frame as there are many areas involved in the probe involved.