GEORGE TOWN: MBI Group International founder Tedy Teow Wooi Huat, 51, is no stranger to controversy – he was a key figure in the Island Red Cafe franchise from 2008 to 2010.
Teow, whose company is currently under the spotlight for its virtual money scheme, and his son Chee Chow, 28, have been jailed before for cheating and misleading investors in the cafe chain scheme.
In August 2011, the Ampang Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur sentenced both father and son to a day’s jail each and fined them a total of RM160,000.
Teow, who was Syarikat Island Red Cafe Franchise Sdn Bhd executive director then, and his son, also a director of the company, had pleaded guilty to fraudulently inducing 93 people to invest a total of RM1,040,400.
MBI has come under the spotlight after it was red-flagged by Bank Negara on May 22 for having a questionable financial scheme.
The authorities then raided M Mall, a shopping mall which MBI runs here, and its M Square logistics centre in Ampang, Selangor, on Monday, and froze 91 bank accounts containing RM177mil linked to the company on Wednesday.
MBI has since urged its members to keep a low profile and not discuss the probe in public.
Members put money into its scheme and get a number of virtual coins in return.
After an “incubation period” of over a year, they can then convert these coins into loyalty reward points to spend on goods and services at retail establishments under the MBI umbrella, such as M Mall.
The scheme is said to give substantial returns each year and is believed to be the longest-running financial scheme founded in Penang.
Its membership is said to be in the millions, from countries such as China, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia.
Teow is believed to be from Penang.
According to the company’s website, Teow set up MBI Group International in 2009.
A hotel in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah and a Chinese restaurant in Jelutong here are also said to be “closely associated” with the company as its members could spend their points at both places.
A check with the Companies Commission of Malaysia showed MBI International Sdn Bhd is registered under Teow Mooi Goay, 47, and Teow Ee Meng, 26, with Khoo Kien Hor, 47, as secretary.
The shareholders are Ee Meng and Chee Chow, with capital of RM1mil.
Ee Meng is also believed to be the son of Tedy Teow.
Meanwhile, it was business as usual at M Mall yesterday. There did not seem to be a rush by MBI members to use up their points there.
Merchants there were still accepting the points for purchases.
An MBI member, who wished to be known only as Kumar, said he came to the mall after hearing talk that it would be closed down but was assured by an employee at the information counter that there was nothing to worry about.
MBI management official Teow Ling Ling, when contacted by phone, said the mall was operating as usual.
Asked about the latest developments in the company following Monday’s raid, she hung up after saying: “We have no comment.”
Efforts by reporters to get comments from the mall’s management office drew a blank.