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Umno to the ‘rescue’ of Genneva gold buyers

 | October 10, 2012

The party says it has received close to 10,000 complaints from buyers seeking its help.

UPDATED

KUALA LUMPUR: Umno Youth today took it upon itself to champion the thousands of gold buyers stuck in a quandary following recent raids and probe by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) on gold trading company Genneva Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

Its public complaints bureau, swarmed by hundreds of Genneva customers and agents this afternoon at Solaris Dutamas, said that it would urge the authorities to “immediately” un-freeze and liquidate assets that belonged to these customers.

Muhammad Khairun Aseh, the head of the bureau and Umno Youth executive council member, said that he would be writing an official letter to BNM seeking a guarantee that the millions worth of assets of all the buyers will be returned.

He said that Umno has got itself involved because it received close to 10,000 complaints from buyers seeking its help.

“Many have expressed to us their stressful situations and we hear you. We recognise that these gold bar buyers are bona fide investors and were never an accomplice, or broke any laws,” Khairun, a lawyer, told a room packed with journalists and Genneva supporters.

“They never thought of breaking any banking or money laundering law.”

“Umno wishes to express our deepest regret that the authorities have failed to be more proactive and effective in resolving this issue,” he said.

Khairun asked why when the directors of Genneva Sdn Bhd (the predecessor to the current Genneva) was charged, the operations were not immediately stopped.

“I’m sure if the authorities had exercised their full powers then, these problems would not have reached this stage,” he said, referring to the 800 charges of illegal deposit-taking of the former directors of Genneva in 2010.

“Don’t allow your inability to provide clear regulatory measures victimised us!” he said, to cheers from the gold buyers.

Khairun also said he will seek a meeting with BNM to discuss the matter so that the issue can be settled as soon as possible.

He also urged BNM to disseminate its “investor alert list” so that more people can be more wary about their investment.

Wrongly labelled

Asked if he was implying that BNM had acted wrongly, Khairun said he was not disputing its regulatory powers, but questioned why the central bank took two years to act.

Meanwhile, a Genneva consultant and buyer, Aljazzura Khan, who represented the group that was here today, said that the buyers have been wrongly labelled as investors.

“Genneva is not an investment but a gold trader, just like Poh Kong and Habib. It is just that our business model is more innovative,” he said.

He said that the company had in the past been guided by BNM officers to make sure it complies with the law.

Another buyer, Suri Jusoh, said that she was using the returns from Genneva to donate to several orphanages.

“Right now, I’m being asked by these homes, which have thousands of children, if the donations will continue to come in,” she said.

Wheelchair-bound S Ramesh said that besides his monthly payment of RM1,000 from Socso, he also gets RM400 “rebate” from the gold he bought from Genneva.

“My mother and college-going nephew depend on me. I hope the government can help,” he said.

Last week, BNM, together with police, the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry and the Companies Commission of Malaysia, carted away boxes of documents and gold bars from the Genneva Malaysia’s headquarters in Kuchai Lama, near here. The Singapore office was also raided at the same time.

Similar raids were conducted last Friday on the other three companies – Pageantry Gold Bhd, Caesar Gold Sdn Bhd and Worldwide Far East Bhd here.

The companies were listed under BNM’s financial consumer alert list of known companies and websites that were not authorised or approved under relevant laws and regulations.

The suspected offences the companies are being investigated are illegal deposit-taking, money-laundering, tax evasion and avoidance, false description, including misrepresentation and appointment of agents without licence.

Action taken to protect investors

In a related development, a joint statement issued by the Attorney General’s Chambers, the police and Bank Negara stated that the combined raids against the companies were conducted in the interest of protecting the investors and the public from falling victim to illegal schemes.

“Based on surveillance and examination conducted on these companies, it has been discovered that these companies are operating schemes that are believed to be not sustainable to provide the promised high monthly returns, nor would they be able to provide the buy back guarantee of gold,” said the statement.

The statement added that such schemes were not sustainable because the returns promised were not funded through gold trading, but from the monies invested into such schemes.

“The investigations have also revealed that the amount of assets and monies held by these companies do not commensurate with the amount collected from their investors.

“Prior to the joint raids, it has been noticed that these companies have delayed in returning gold or money to the investors within the stipulated time as promised.

“Such signs are early warning indications prior to the collapse of such schemes that would result in significant losses to investors,” added the statement.


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