Datuk Seri among six held over illegal foreign currency trading

KUALA LUMPUR: Six individuals, including a Datuk Seri, behind an illegal foreign currency trading company, were detained on Tuesday under the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca).

Federal commercial crimes investigations department (CCID) director Datuk Acryl Sani Abdullah Sani said the suspects, comprising five men and a woman aged between 28 and 38, were arrested at separate locations here, Selangor and Pahang.

He said the suspects were remanded for 21 days under Poca and will be investigated for offences related to the scheme.

Acryl said investigations showed that the company had connived its investors into believing it was a forex trading company.

He said police had received 408 police reports from the company's investors and investigations showed that there were more than 23,000 investors who had lost over RM80 million.

Acryl said the suspects were held in an operation, codenamed Nuri 3/17, and police seized cellphones, a laptop computer, bank cards and five cars worth RM750,000 in several raids.

Sources said among those detained were a chief executive officer and two directors who formed the company and an investment broker.

The suspects can be detained for up to 60 days and eventually face restricted residence for up to two years under provisions of Poca.

Sources revealed that the suspects were held under Poca as there were lack of grounds or evidence to charge them in court for cheating.

However, an ongoing probe by Bank Negara for illegal deposit-taking may result in the suspects facing court charges for the offence.

Police, who initially investigated the case for cheating under Section 420 of the Penal Code, had also frozen the assets and bank accounts of the suspects prior to the arrests.

The company was allegedly linked to illegal deposit-taking amounting to tens of millions of ringgit last year from thousands of investors who were lured by its offer of high returns of up to 80%.

Eventually, it was found operating its business illegally without a banking and financial services licence from Bank Negara.

The operation turned out to be a pyramid or Ponzi-like scheme.

Thousands of investors, who participated in the scheme investing between RM100 and several hundred thousand ringgit, are in a quandary after the operations of the company went downhill in October last year.

In November last year, the illegal operations of the company was exposed by MIC treasurer-general Datuk Seri S. Vell Paari when dozens of duped investors took their troubles to him.