KUALA LUMPUR – Another multi-billion ringgit “money game” scheme ostensibly involved in foreign exchange (forex) trading and other online businesses, has tipped over, leaving its investors in the lurch.
The Malaysian-run scheme called “Maxim Trader” has been red-flagged by Bank Negara. It once boasted having over 50,000 investors from Malaysia, Japan, China, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and other countries.
It is said to have amassed more than RM20 billion in funds since its inception in 2013 – the biggest money game pool reported since news of get-rich-quick schemes began surfacing in recent months.
According to several disgruntled investors who spoke to theSun, they had been introduced to Maxim Trader as a company managed by Maxim Capital Ltd, a company initially registered in New Zealand and subsequently in the Cayman Islands.
Three Malaysians, all with Datuk Seri and Datuk titles, were named as founders of the company while several other individuals, including foreigners, were named as top officers.
Apart from glossy brochures and high-powered seminars, the company went to great lengths in marketing the scheme in grandeur and positioned it to lure even the sharpest and hardened investors.
Investors were treated to paid overseas tours and taken on trips to gold mines supposedly projected for investments.
Impressed and taken in by the grandeur, investors comprising retirees, businessmen, civil servants including high-ranking police officers, politicians and other professionals pumped in millions of ringgit hoping to strike it rich.
As with all such schemes, the investors said they were drawn by the high returns of up to 150% for investments placed over a lock-in period of 18 months.
Monthly returns promised were between 5% and 8% for investments between US$5,000 (RM21,000) and US$100,000 (RM425,000).
By mid-2015, just about two years after the scheme was launched, the investments had grown and doubled as promised but only on paper.
However, the company’s investment and recruitment agents or “uplines” as they are usually called in such pyramid structured schemes, advised investors to refrain from making withdrawals of the capital and profits to enable their investments to grow further.
Many took their advice while thousands of others who chose otherwise however found they faced difficulties in recovering their monies.
Months later, with no payments forthcoming and suspicions rising among the investors, the company announced its “business expansion” through the acquisition of two companies – the Royal Globe Holdings Inc a company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange; and RMC Mining Sdn Bhd, a company specialising in gold mining.
Investors who had neither received their profits nor recovered their initial capital were promised shares in both companies as restitution and were coaxed into pumping more money into the scheme.
It is learnt that many investors took up the offer and placed more money with Maxim Trader.
By early 2016, investors found themselves turning into victims when updates and news of the company’s progress and activities began dwindling.
Its official website was no longer available and its top officials who once showed up at every event to promote the scheme, were suddenly no longer reachable.
Local recruitment officers who had drawn in hundreds of investors were left to deal with angry victims, often appeasing them with empty promises.
A victim, who only wanted to be known as Lee, an accountant by profession, told theSun that although he was an experienced investor, he fell for the scheme, parting with more than RM1.2 million two years ago, and to date has not received a single sen in returns.
“My capital is stuck and I do not know who to turn to. There are people who gave up their savings, sold or mortgaged their properties to invest,” he said.
“We are all caught in a quandary. We are at their mercy and were told to take whatever they give but to date we have received nothing but empty promises,” he said.
Another victim who pooled her savings and that of her friends and their families lost almost RM9 million that was invested in the company since 2013.
Several of those affected also confided that they were fearful of pursuing operators of the scheme as there were claims of them having alliances with the underworld and “people in high places”.
They also claimed that that the murder of a Malaysian businessman in Thailand two years ago was linked to the scheme.
Tired and having been patient for over two years, a group of investors lodged police reports last month and appointed a law firm to undertake the recovery of their funds.
The group is expecting to gather more victims for a joint-suit against Maxim Trader.
Selangor Commercial Crimes Investigations Department head ACP Wan Rukman Wan Hassan when contacted by theSun confirmed that police had received two reports against Maxim Trader and have started investigations.
He said police are gathering information on the company and will be tracking down those behind the scheme.
While Bank Negara has blacklisted the company as involved in unlicensed and illegal operations, Hong Kong and Taiwan, which have a huge number of investors had busted the company’s activities in 2015.