Singaporeans victims in Australian Ponzi scam

Published by Straits Times on Aug 14, 2017, 5:00 AM SGT

One victim lost $20,000, another more than $300,000, while a third pulled out his $43,000 when he suspected something was amiss.

They were among more than 950 Singapore-based investors of a A$100 million (S$107 million) Ponzi scheme in Australia, involving 18 firms controlled by Australian Veronica Macpherson that were ordered to wind up last month.

Justice Michael Barker of the Australian Federal Court said: “The evidence points strongly to the conclusion that the defendants form part of a group of companies which have raised in excess of A$100 million from private investors by way of an apparent Ponzi scheme.”

The judge, in decision grounds issued last month, added that the companies’ methods showed “there is a need to ensure investor protection, and a real risk to the public interest that warrants protection”.

The scheme urged investors to put money into property developments in Western Australia’s Pilbara area, including Newman Estate.

Ponzi schemes usually have little or no real investments or assets, with investor returns financed by money from later investors.

The Australian Securities and Investment Commission, which led the winding-up move in court, alleged that more than 1,700 investors lent Macro Group firms almost A$110 million between July 2014 and March last year, and received interest payments – almost all of which were made using the money from new investors.

When Macro did not have enough new investors to meet its expenses, including interest bills, it stopped the payments to investors, leading to the collapse of the Ponzi scheme, according to court documents.

The scheme had 981 investors from Singapore, 651 from Malaysia, 58 from Britain, 17 from continental Europe and 31 from Australia

Many Singapore victims The Straits Times spoke to were retirees, like Mr. Chan, who declined to have their identities disclosed.

Mr. Chan had put in $20,000 in 2015 through Singapore-based Macro Realty Developments. Funds were collected from investors over four payments in 2015.

He said interest payable for the 12-month tenure varied between 14 per cent a year for sums up to $49,000 and 16 per cent for $50,000 and above.

“Those who invested $100,000 or more were given free trips to the site area in Australia,” he added. He lodged a police report in March last year after Macro defaulted.

Police declined comment as investigations are ongoing.

Said a female corporate executive who had invested in the scheme for long-term gain: “I am distressed and devastated and trusted too much in the system.”

Yet, others pulled out their sums in time. One investor named Mr. Ho parked A$40,000 with Macro Realty Developments after hearing Ms. Macpherson promote the Newman Estate investment in 2013.

He told ST: “Macro Realty Developments guaranteed monthly returns in the project. For a few months, I got my money. And then the hiccups came.”

Red flags were raised when the company told him anti-money laundering requirements by the Australian government would delay returns.

By 2015, he had opted out, pressing Macro Realty Developments to return his money. And it did.

“Unfortunately, other Singaporean investors who faced the same problems as I did were encouraged to reinvest their money on more pricey property developments for larger monthly returns,” said Mr. Ho.

新加坡人在澳大利亚投资骗局中受害

翻译自海峡时报 发布 / AUG 14, 2017, 5:00 AM SGT

一名受害人损失了20,000美元,另一名损失了超过300,000美元,而第三名受害人则怀疑自己有什么不对劲,拿走了43,000美元。

他们是超过950名新加坡投资者在澳大利亚进行的一项总额达1亿澳元(1.07亿新元)的庞氏骗局的投资者之一,该计划涉及上个月被澳大利亚Veronica Macpherson控制的18家公司清盘。

澳大利亚联邦法院法官迈克尔·巴克尔说:“有力证据表明,被告是一组公司的一部分,这些公司通过明显的庞氏骗局从私人投资者那里筹集了超过1亿澳元的资金。”

法官在上个月发布的判决理由中补充说,这些公司的方法表明“有必要确保对投资者的保护,以及对公众利益的真正风险,需要保护”。

该计划敦促投资者将资金投入西澳大利亚州皮尔巴拉地区的房地产开发,包括纽曼房地产。

庞氏骗局通常没有或只有很少的实际投资或资产,而投资者的回报则来自后来的投资者的资金。

澳大利亚证券和投资委员会(Australian Securities and Investment Commission)牵头进行了法院的清算程序,指控超过1,700名投资者在2014年7月至去年3月之间向Macro Group公司贷款了近1.1亿澳元,并收到了利息支付-几乎所有利息均已支付用新投资者的钱。

法庭文件显示,当马克罗没有足够的新投资者来支付其包括利息费用在内的费用时,它停止了向投资者的付款,导致庞氏骗局崩溃。

该计划有来自新加坡的981位投资者,来自马来西亚的651位投资者,来自英国的58位,来自欧洲大陆的17位以及来自澳大利亚的31位

与《海峡时报》交谈的许多新加坡受害者都是退休人士,例如陈先生,他们拒绝透露自己的身份。

陈先生在2015年通过总部位于新加坡的Macro Realty Developments投入了20,000美元。 2015年,我们从投资者那里收取了四笔款项。

他说,十二个月任期的应付利息在每年14%之间,金额不超过49,000美元,在16%之间(50,000美元及以上)不等。

他补充说:“那些投资10万澳元或以上的人可以免费参观澳大利亚的现场。”在马克罗拖欠债务后,他于去年3月提交了警方报告。

随着调查的进行,警方拒绝置评。

一位对该计划进行了长期投资的女性企业高管说:“我感到沮丧,沮丧,对系统的信任度过高。”

但是,其他人却及时拨出了他们的款项。一位名叫何先生的投资者在听到麦克弗森女士在2013年推动纽曼房地产投资后,向Macro Realty Developments投入了40,000澳元。

他告诉ST:“ Macro Realty Developments保证了该项目的每月收益。几个月后,我拿到了我的钱。然后出现了麻烦。”

当该公司告诉他澳大利亚政府的反洗钱要求将延迟退货时,就发出了警告。

到2015年,他选择退出,向Macro Realty Developments要求退还他的钱。它做到了。

何先生说:“不幸的是,其他面临与我同样问题的新加坡投资者也受到鼓励,将他们的资金再投资于价格更高的房地产开发项目上,以获得更大的每月回报。”

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