Gold investment firm director 'goes missing'

Mr Simon Goh, seen here in Valiant Capital's Shanghai office, has not been contactable since June, according to investors.
Mr Simon Goh, seen here in Valiant Capital's Shanghai office, has not been contactable since June, according to investors.

Police reports made against S'porean who allegedly took clients' gold, money

At least seven police reports have been made against a Singaporean businessman who is believed to have gone missing after allegedly taking his clients' money and gold.

Half a dozen local investors of Valiant Capital, a Singapore-registered gold trading company, said they had not received the dividends they were promised and had been unable to contact its director Simon Goh Chee Kin since June.

They invested a total of more than $2.5 million with the company, the six told The Straits Times.

All are former clients of the now- defunct gold trading firm Genneva Gold, which was raided by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) in 2012. The investors say Mr Goh is a former employee of Genneva who set up Valiant Capital in late 2012, promising to help them make back the money they lost.

They said they received monthly dividends of 1 per cent to 2 per cent for several months, before the payments stopped coming.

The company's Orchard Towers office has been vacant for months and the investors said Mr Goh used their money and gold to finance his operations in Shanghai.

Mr Goh, who is in his 30s, has also been accused of wrongdoing in China. A July 3 article in Shanghai Morning Post reported that about 300 Chinese investors, mostly senior citizens, were left stranded after investing an estimated 100 million yuan (S$22 million) with Valiant Capital's Shanghai office, and could not contact Mr Goh.

According to court records of Shanghai Xuhui district, Mr Goh and his wife Sophia Low are due to appear before the court next May as defendants in a civil suit over private lending.

In response to queries, the Singapore police said "it is inappropriate to comment on police investigations, if any".

Singaporean investor Chandran Nair, 63, lost $374,000 with Genneva Gold, and said he invested another $79,000 with Valiant Capital because he trusted Mr Goh.

"He said he's a former police officer and he has a wife and three young children. I went for his son's first-year birthday party."

The retired army officer and father of three said he is now working as a security officer to make ends meet. "I trusted (Mr Goh). He was a real sweet talker. Now we're all in limbo."

The co-director of Valiant Capital, who asked not to be named, said he had no knowledge of Mr Goh's whereabouts. He said that while he is still listed as a director of the company, he had stopped working for Valiant Capital months ago and is currently driving an Uber taxi.

"I had no power, I just followed Simon's instructions. People may say I'm the co-director and it cannot be that I didn't know anything, but it's true (that I didn't). My family and friends also invested and their money is gone."

He said Mr Goh's wife was finance director of the company. She is believed to be in Singapore, but could not be reached on her last known phone number.

Mr Goh had described himself in a 2012 interview with The Sunday Times as a "spender" and "risk-taker" who had been mired in credit card debt in his 20s before making his fortune trading gold and selling property. He also said he spent 11 years in the Singapore Police Force.

Valiant Capital is the latest gold investment firm to come under the spotlight here. In 2012, more than 10,000 investors lost their money to Genneva Gold. A year later, The Gold Guarantee founder Lee Song Teck went on the run. In February this year, more than 100 people lodged reports with the CAD against Suisse International.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced last month that it plans to tighten regulations on certain unconventional investment products, such as gold buyback schemes.

New regulations, to be tabled in Parliament next year, will require such schemes to be authorised or recognised by the MAS.

But for some investors, the safeguards come too late. Mr Nair said: "My 36 years of work, my lifelong savings are all gone."

• Additional reporting by Kor Kian Beng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2015, with the headline 'Gold investment firm director 'goes missing''. Print Edition | Subscribe