Another crowdfunding scheme goes sour

Four investors claim security firm owes them more than $400,000

Another crowdfunding scheme marketed by financial advisory firm Noble Consulting Group has failed to return promised payouts to investors.

At least four investors said they had invested more than $400,000 with Noble Consulting in loans to security services firm Glen Iris, fronted by Mr Richard Koh, former vice-president of the Security Association of Singapore. The scheme promised annual returns of up to 24 per cent to investors for lending the security firm fixed sums of money.

But four investors, who had invested between $25,000 and $250,000, said they failed to recover their principal or the promised returns after Glen Iris stopped payments in the middle of last year.

The investors contacted The Straits Times after the newspaper ran a story about several investors who had agreed to lend money to construction firm Soilwood through Noble Consulting Group.

So far, eight investors have come out to say they have invested $1 million in Soilwood and did not get their money back. ST PHOTO: LEE XIN EN

Investors in Soilwood too did not receive the promised payouts or their principal sums. So far, eight investors have come out to say they have invested $1 million in Soilwood and did not get their money back.

According to documents shown to The Straits Times, investors in Glen Iris could put in a minimum sum of $25,000 to receive a return of 1.5 per cent monthly. They would receive their principal amount after 12 months. Investors would receive a 1.75 per cent monthly return for a $50,000 investment and a 2 per cent monthly return if at least $100,000 was invested.

One investor, who wanted to be known only as Mr Kwek, told The Straits Times he met Noble Consulting Group's director, Ms Nancy Tan, at a seminar at YMCA and found her accounting and projection methods to be professional.

"As an ex-banker dealing with SME loans, she seemed to have a lot of credibility, and I assumed that she had applied the same due diligence and standards of a bank," said Mr Kwek, who is an academic.

Convinced by her presentation, he said he agreed to lend Glen Iris $250,000 in March 2014. He received monthly payouts totalling $80,000 over 16 months, but did not get his payout in July last year.

Another investor, Mr George Baizanis, said he met Noble Consulting Group in September 2014, and had put in a total of $75,000 by March last year. "I was persuaded to invest because it's a security business so there is not much volatility," he said. Mr Baizanis, a Greek national who works in finance and has lived in Singapore for 10 years, said he was offered quarterly payouts, and received just one payout of $2,000 in March last year.

He added that after his payout for June did not materialise, Mr Koh met him and about nine other investors. It is unclear why Glen Iris stopped its payments, but Mr Baizanis said Mr Koh asked for an extension for the loan repayment.

Mr Baizanis was unconvinced by Mr Koh's explanations as he refused to sign a document for a loan repayment plan.

He also moved to sue Mr Koh for bankruptcy, which came into effect last December, while Glen Iris was wound up last October.

When The Straits Times visited Glen Iris' office in Paya Lebar, it was occupied by another company, which said it had been renting the space since last December.

Attempts to reach Mr Koh for comment were unsuccessful. When asked about the schemes, Noble Consulting Group replied in an e-mail: "It would be best if you speak to the representatives of the two companies, as I cannot speak for them why they missed their payments. I cannot comment (even if I want to) as investigations are ongoing."

The police also said it was inappropriate to comment as investigations are ongoing.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 18, 2016, with the headline Another crowdfunding scheme goes sour. Subscribe