7 Chinese victims of scam look for clues in S'pore

RIPPLES from a scam that has allegedly cost Chinese investors US$1.2 billion (S$1.6 billion) touched Singapore's shores yesterday.

A group of angry investors from China showed up at a flat in Sengkang yesterday afternoon to demand their money back from a Singaporean employee of the company that allegedly caused thousands of investors to get their fingers burnt.

The seven, who had flown in from Beijing on Sunday, knocked repeatedly on the door of a Singaporean's flat for two hours to no avail.

He purportedly worked for API Premiere Swiss Trust AG - a finance firm that has reportedly cost almost 30,000 investors from China US$1.2 billion of their savings.

In the five days here, the investors have engaged lawyer Chung Ting Fai and lodged a police report with the Commercial Affairs Department.

They left a note written in Chinese on the man's door. It read: "Return our hard-earned money."

Street protests were held in Beijing and Hong Kong earlier this year when investors realised they might have been duped.

In January, API sent out a message informing investors that its servers had been hacked.

Investors could not access their accounts and were told that their money was gone.

Mr Zhao Guangcai, the group's leader, said in Mandarin: "We went to Switzerland and found out that the company was a shell."

The police had sealed doors to its so-called headquarters.

The group in Singapore said they had invested through another Singaporean, who visited China and held seminars in Beijing.

Some investors were also invited to all-expenses-paid trips to Switzerland - where they met with traders - and Dubai.

They saw forex trading rooms, where traders worked and made deals online.

Most investors had started by investing about US$10,000 and could withdraw their money any time they wanted. They got back their principle sum - with 8 per cent interest - within a week.

Over time, they began to pump in more money. Mr Zhao and Ms Miao Lihua, 33, who owns a fashion company, put in more than US$1 million each.

Now, they want their money back.

The group, due to return to China yesterday, extended their stay after realising that one of the company's employees was in Singapore.

So far, they have spent about $10,000 each, flying around the world to look for leads.

They plan to stick around the Singaporean's registered address to demand an explanation from the employee.

Mr Zhao, 58, said: "He is the closest clue we have to getting our money back. We are not giving up so easily."

According to Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao, the Singaporean said he was also a victim and that the company owed him $30,000 in wages.

He blamed the other Singaporean, whose registered flat in Mei Ling Street is empty, for roping him into the business.

"I have been looking for him since the start of the year, but I can't find him. I don't want to talk about this incident any more. I just want the situation to be over," he said.

awcw@sph.com.sg

twtoh@sph.com.sg

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2015, with the headline '7 Chinese victims of scam look for clues in S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe