Woman in alleged ponzi scam has $5k in bank

A Mercedes-Benz and a BMW were seen parked at the Tanah Merah semi-detached house of Madam Leong Lai Yee. Madam Leong who allegedly owes more than 60 investors around $60 million, has just over $5,000 in a joint bank account with her husband. -- ST P
A Mercedes-Benz and a BMW were seen parked at the Tanah Merah semi-detached house of Madam Leong Lai Yee. Madam Leong who allegedly owes more than 60 investors around $60 million, has just over $5,000 in a joint bank account with her husband. -- ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN 

Her only other declared assets here are Rolex watch, house she co-owns

THE woman who allegedly owes more than 60 investors around $60 million has just over $5,000 in a joint bank account with her husband.

Madam Leong Lai Yee does, however, co-own a house worth $2.6 million, her only other asset in Singapore besides a $7,000 Rolex watch.

These figures were revealed in a declaration of assets signed by her and submitted to the courts as part of her defence in an ongoing suit by one of the investors, Ms Chan Shwe Ching.

In the documents obtained by The Straits Times, Ms Chan claims that she had invested a total of $1.171 million for herself and a number of other people. Her lawyer Michael Chia said that the courts have allowed an application to freeze Madam Leong's assets within Singapore.

In her defence, Madam Leong claims that Ms Chan was acting as an unlicensed moneylender. She also alleges that Ms Chan and her relatives had harassed her.

Investors had come forward last week to claim they were owed millions after investing with Madam Leong, who promised hefty returns. The funds were for her to buy local properties at risk of foreclosure on the cheap and sell them to overseas buyers at a profit.

The investors fear that Madam Leong and her family have left the country, as they have been unable to contact them since May 16. When told about how much assets Madam Leong has according to the court documents, the investors who spoke to The Straits Times did not sound surprised.

A 50-year-old housewife who wanted to be known only as Madam J. Tan said that Madam Leong had previously told her that her husband had a fish farm in Thailand and she owned some condominium units in Bangkok which she was trying to sell off in order to buy land overseas.

Another investor who has known Madam Leong for five years and gave his name only as Mr Ong, said: "We just want her back in Singapore for an answer. Why is she doing all this?"

Separate legal proceedings against Madam Leong have been started, said lawyer Rayney Wong, who said he is representing more than 30 investors.

Madam Leong's sister Veronica, who reported her missing last Saturday, said yesterday that she last saw her at their mother's birthday celebration on March 26: "We are not very close; we meet up two or three times a year during the festive season and to honour my mother's birthday."

Since news about Madam Leong and the investors broke, their mother has been "very, very distressed", she added. "She is feeling very sad and cries a lot."

joseow@sph.com.sg