$1.5b bogus trading scheme: Firms linked to suspect being wound up

Ng Yu Zhi at the State Courts in April. He is accused of involvement in deceiving investors into putting at least $1 billion into nickel deals that never took place. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG
Ng Yu Zhi at the State Courts in April. He is accused of involvement in deceiving investors into putting at least $1 billion into nickel deals that never took place. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Two firms linked to Singaporean businessman Ng Yu Zhi, the alleged mastermind behind a US$1.1 billion (S$1.5 billion) bogus trading scheme, are being wound up.

Resolutions were passed by the sole shareholder of the two companies at an extraordinary general meeting on June 16 to voluntarily liquidate the companies.

The two firms - Envy Capital and Envy Strategic Holdings - are owned by Envy Management Holdings, where Ng, 33, is one of two directors. The other director is Ms Lee Si Ye.

According to a government e-gazette notice on Monday, the special resolution stated that because of their liabilities, the two companies cannot continue their businesses and should be wound up voluntarily.

Envy Management Holdings is one of three companies under the Envy group of companies, which was placed under interim judicial managers from accounting firm KPMG in April. The other two companies, where Ng is also the director, are Envy Global Trading and Envy Asset Management.

Ng faces more than a dozen charges of cheating, fraudulent trading and forgery.

He is accused of involvement in deceiving investors into putting at least $1 billion into nickel deals that never took place.

At least four lawsuits have been filed in court by investors seeking to claim some $50 million from Envy Global Trading and Ng, The Straits Times reported last month.

According to Reuters, a report prepared by the interim judicial managers led by Mr Bob Yap said the alleged fraudulent nickel trading scheme purportedly raised about $1.5 billion from nearly 1,000 investors, with about $731 million of this later withdrawn by investors.

The judicial managers' report also concluded that none of the funds from investors were used for nickel trades and that any investment returns were likely to have come from investor funds themselves.

Documents were forged and a video of a nickel shipment inspection was recorded to convince investors of the existence of the purported trading, the report added.

"We conclude that the objectives of judicial management cannot be achieved for any of the companies.

There is, most significantly, no business for the judicial managers to preserve or continue," the managers said in the report.

Besides Ng, the report identified Ms Lee as an ultimate beneficial owner of the Envy Group.

The Commercial Affairs Department has seized about $100 million of assets from Ng, who is currently out on bail of $1.5 million.

He also has to wear an electronic tag and comply with a 10pm to 6am curfew.

Ng's bail is believed to be the highest sum imposed since electronic monitoring was introduced as a condition of bail in 2018.

If convicted, Ng faces a jail term of up to seven years on the fraudulent trading charges, while cheating is punishable with up to 10 years in jail.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 24, 2021, with the headline $1.5b bogus trading scheme: Firms linked to suspect being wound up. Subscribe