Two men claim trial over alleged roles in fraudulent trading scheme that lured thousands

Ng Kuan Chuan (left) and Leong Koon Wah face charges under the Securities and Futures Act. ST PHOTOS: KELVIN CHNG

SINGAPORE - Investors were told that professional traders would be conducting forex trades on their behalf, with returns as high as 13 per cent a month.

That pitch by Singapore-incorporated company Singliworld drew the interest of "thousands" from March 2014 to May 2015, a district court heard on Monday (March 28).

But by May 2015, more than 2,000 investors had been defrauded and the firm's liabilities exceeded US$17 million (S$23 million), said Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Tan.

Two Malaysian men are now claiming trial over their alleged roles in the scheme.

One of them is Singliworld's managing director Leong Koon Wah. The 53-year-old Singapore permanent resident is accused of five charges including those under the Securities and Futures Act.

Ng Kuan Chuan, 35, who was a director and shareholder of another firm called Singliworld HK, faces two charges under the Securities and Futures Act and one under the Companies Act.

In his opening address, DPP Tan said investors in the purported investment scheme called "Singliforex" were promised that a team of professional traders would use their monies to trade in "currency pairs" on the world's forex markets.

He added: "The scheme purported to generate trading returns as high as 13 per cent per month, while slyly also purporting to generate conservative returns as low as 2 per cent in some months - thereby appearing both attractive and realistic at the same time."

He told the court that the "sophisticated scheme depended on the complicity of two foreign-incorporated companies, which purported to play the role of forex trading brokerages".

They are Hong Kong-incorporated Triumph Global (Asia) and New Zealand-incorporated Union Markets.

The court heard that investors were told that professional traders were conducting the forex trades through these brokerages.

"In reality, there were no such genuine traders, no such genuine trading, and no such genuine trading returns," said DPP Tan.

Both Leong and Ng were registered directors of Triumph Global.

Leong has also been the beneficial owner of Union Markets since January 2015 while Ng had been involved in the firm's management. Both men were also directors at Singliworld HK.

DPP Tan said the Singliforex scheme was not viable as there was no sustainable means to pay investors all of the monies, including the purported trading profits, that they were entitled to under the scheme.

He added: "Leong and Ng were together responsible for the 'success' of the fraudulent Singliforex scheme.

"For example, Leong ran Singliworld's marketing operations and solicited investors to join the scheme. Ng was primarily responsible for managing the staff of Triumph Global and giving them instructions."

The prosecutor said that besides being fraudulent, Singliforex was also an illegal multi-level marketing scheme. "Investors in the Singliworld scheme were told that they would make money by procuring others to invest into the scheme. An investor, A, could bring another person, B, into the scheme. A would be known as B's 'sponsor' or 'upline', and B would become A's immediate downline.

"The scheme comprised a 'rebate' structure that offered investors payouts for the (supposed) trading activities of their downlines. Investors were thus incentivised to recruit others to invest in the Singliforex scheme."

For each charge under the Companies Act, an offender can be jailed for up to seven years and fined up to $15,000.

For each charge under the Securities and Futures Act, an offender can be jailed for up to three years and fined up to $150,000.

The trial continues.

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