6 Malaysians fail to get back RM4.26 mil in alleged Aussie Ponzi scheme

The investors were allegedly told that property prices in Pilbara, Western Australia, dropped by 80%. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: Six Malaysians who claimed they lost A$1.5 million (RM4.26 million) in an alleged Ponzi property scheme, returned to Western Australia last weekend to try and recover their money, but left disappointed.

The six said they were promised high rates of returns for their “investment” and were entertained to lavish dinners in expensive hotels, ABC News said.

The men were among about 2,000 investors, mostly from Malaysia and Singapore, who lent Australian businesswoman Veronica Macpherson A$120 million to build housing for fly-in, fly-out workers in Newman and Port Hedland in Pilbara, Western Australia.

However, they were told the project had collapsed in 2016.

“Feeling hopeful but also bracing for bad news, the Malaysian men arrived in Perth last weekend in a bid to find answers — on behalf of 130 fellow Malaysian investors — from regulators, liquidators, lawyers and Ms Macpherson.

“But they left with heavier hearts,” the news portal said.

It said the men were left disappointed when a meeting with Macpherson at a cafe was cut short when she suddenly walked out.

“We wanted to meet her to actually understand what went wrong and how it went wrong,” Kumar, from Ipoh, was quoted as saying

“She claims that the property prices in Pilbara dropped by 80%.”

Another Malaysian, identified as Guna from Kuala Lumpur, said that after meeting with several parties in Perth, “I have given up 90% of my hope”.

ABC News said Macpherson, who ran the Macro group of companies, declined to comment.

The report said that in his examination of the Macro money trail, KPMG liquidator Hayden White found that millions of dollars of investors’ money was spent on jetsetting, parties and rock bands, as well as promoting the investment scheme in Australia and overseas.

It said the investors were particularly galled that Macpherson’s companies were allowed to continue raising funds from Asian investors even after their operations were being curtailed by the Australian corporate watchdog from September 2015.

According to the report, the investors said they were not provided with important documents – a prospectus and an audited statement of accounts – which they have since learned were required for investment schemes in Australia.

It said that with hindsight, the investors all agreed they were “seduced” by the high rates of returns – Guna was offered 24% – and should have done better due diligence.

But they said they were also convinced they were “doing good” by investing, after Macpherson spoke of how she wanted to provide permanent homes for fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers and gave them newspaper articles about the high rate of FIFO suicides.

ABC News said the Australian Securities and Investments Commission’s investigation into Macpherson was continuing.