SINGAPORE - A company director was sentenced to six years’ jail on Monday for misappropriating more than $1.1 million of his victims’ monies in an investment ruse involving teakwood.
In 2022, Matthew Goh Tian Si, 45, a director and shareholder of a firm called Prosperity Ventures Global, pleaded guilty to one count of criminal breach of trust.
In earlier proceedings, Deputy Public Prosecutors Stephanie Chew and Tay Jia En said the case involved an egregious abuse of trust.
They added: “As part of its modus operandi, the venture would attract potential investors by guaranteeing generous returns for their investment. However, contrary to what the investors were promised, the monies invested were instead dishonestly misappropriated by the accused.”
No restitution has been made to date.
According to court documents, Goh’s father, Goh Toh Heng, 79, who had represented himself as a director of an Indonesia-incorporated company called PT Abby Resources Minerals, is linked to the case.
The outcome of the older man’s case was not disclosed in court documents.
Between December 2014 and July 2016, PT Abby offered investment schemes marketed by Prosperity Ventures to investors in Singapore. One of the schemes offered a one-year investment with a 24 per cent annual return. Another scheme offered a two-year investment with an annual return of 17 per cent.
The DPPs had said: “PT Abby claimed that the teak trees were grown in two Indonesian plantations located in Sulawesi and Jogjakarta and that they would maintain the trees until maturity before selling them to timber mills at a minimum sale price.”
The investment agreements assured investors of a guaranteed return of the principal sum at the end of the investment periods.
Upon investing, they received a sale and purchase agreement as well as a certificate of ownership over the share of teak trees.
A total of 92 investors signed 131 investment agreements with PT Abby, and paid a total of $2,260,000 to invest in the schemes offered. They were not aware they had been duped to join the schemes.
Among other things, the agreement falsely represented that PT Abby owned two Indonesian plantations, and that it was the sole owner of the teak trees.
The prosecutors said: “(Matthew Goh) admitted knowing that PT Abby did not own any teak plantations and that Prosperity Ventures had made false representations to the investors when they marketed the... investment schemes.”
Between December 2014 and November 2015, he dishonestly misappropriated more than $1.1 million of the investors’ monies. He transferred the cash to his bank account as well as those belonging to his family members, including his father. None of the cash was used to buy teak trees and teak lots.
In July 2016, investors began lodging police reports saying that PT Abby had defaulted on the promised returns.
Matthew Goh left Singapore in June 2017 and returned in June 2018. He was later charged with criminal breach of trust in a district court.