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Settle our woes, Bestino investors tell BNM again

 | June 5, 2012

The investors also want to know what happened to the money seized by BNM when it raided Bestino's office in 2010.

KUALA LUMPUR: A 74-year-old man has taken Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to task for the delay in settling the Bestino gold scam which has been dragging on for the last three years.

The former Ipoh City Hall employee, who declined to be named, urged both BNM and Bestino directors to clear the matter and return monies deposited by investors of the scam.

Bestino Group Bhd, which lists “gold” as its nature of business, was raided by BNM and the Securities Commission officials in June 2009, for alleged illegal deposit-taking. The firm is also suspected of money laundering.

Since then, investors had pleaded to BNM to settle the matter and return their money.

They had also submitted memorandums to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who is also Finance Minister, related ministries and government agencies.

A news report on Feb 13, quoting Bestino director Chong Yuk Ming, said that the company was ready to return the money since the firm had US$146 million in its account in HSBC bank Hong Kong.

However, he claimed Bestino needed BNM’s approval to transfer the money to Malaysian banks.

In reply to this BNM said Bestino was free to bring in the fund and that the central bank would not be a barrier in the flow of funds into the country.

Investors are now saying that “there is something fishy with both BNM and Bestino”.

“The investors believe that since the company’s assets had been forozen, both BNM and Bestino are really not interested in solving the issue,” said an irate investor.

Speaking to FMT, he said the management of the company has not responded to a proposal that a tripartite meeting be held to sort out the issue.

“They must explain how they intend to pay back. We also need BNM at the meeting to sort out any difficulty in bringing back the money,” he added.

“Thus, the question now is who is cheating the investors… BNM or Bestino?” he asked.

Money from Hong Kong

He also furnished FMT with a document which proved that Bestino indeed had the funds to settle the investors.

The document, dated Jan 20, 2012, was a verification from HSBC, Hong Kong, that Bestino indeed had US$146 million in its account.

“There are two main possibilities here… either Bestino is deliberately buying time to bring in the money or BNM has blocked the transfer while claiming that the company is free to bring in the fund,” said the investor.

The investors also want to know what happened to the money seized by BNM when it raided Bestino’s office in 2010.

It was reported that BNM seized RM24 million following the raid. It is a small portion owed to investors.

“According to the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA), the frozen RM24 million can be claimed by all the investors under a third-party claim. However, until today the money has not been returned to investors.

“BNM should play a pro-active role in trying to help the investors rather than trying to freeze and take everything under its custody,” he said.

Bestino had reportedly collected more than RM400 million from the public comprising mainly Indians since it began operations.

On record, Bestino had nearly 6,800 investors within three years of setting up business. However, this does not include the gold that the investors reinvested in Bestino totalling RM300 million.


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