PETALING JAYA: Singapore police are investigating a property company over a suspected Ponzi scheme that collapsed last year after swindling over a thousand investors, including Malaysians and Singaporeans, of some A$110 million (RM373 million).
The 651 Malaysian investors were among 1,738 involved in the scheme. According to a report by ABC News, the others comprised Singaporeans (981) and investors from the UK (58), continental Europe (17) and Australia (31).
The Singapore-based company in question, Macro Realty Developments Pte Ltd, is controlled by Australian businesswoman Veronica Macpherson.
Last year, it was the subject of an investor alert by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
The report said according to court documents, investors were told that their money was being used for property development in Pilbara, Western Australia (WA).
The scheme also promised annual returns of up to 18%.
However, the funds were instead used to pay for company expenses, including the interest payments to early investors.
The scheme collapsed early last year when the company did not have enough new business to meet its expenses. Until that point, it had been heavily promoted in Singapore and Malaysia.
According to ABC, many Malaysian investors believed the scheme had government support due to a 2014 corporate video filmed in the WA Parliament which featured a senior politician alongside Macpherson.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (Asic) is reportedly investigating Macpherson over potential offences of stealing, fraud and forgery.
Macpherson’s financial services licence and passport were cancelled last year, and her active Australian companies wound up by the Federal Court this week, ABC added.