Malaysia

Gold trader says ‘business as usual’ despite missing Singapore CEO

BNM’s raid on Genneva left investors unable to withdraw their funds or bullions. — File picBNM’s raid on Genneva left investors unable to withdraw their funds or bullions. — File picKUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 ― Operations are proceeding uninterrupted, Singapore-based gold trader The Gold Guarantee Malaysia (TGG-M) said today, despite growing investor concern in the island republic over the reported disappearance of its chief executive, Lee Song Teck.

TGG is on Bank Negara’s consumer alert list, which was sent out after several other gold traders in an unregulated industry, such as Genneva Gold, left more than 60,000 people in a lurch after the companies accounts were frozen following the central bank’s raid last October on suspicion of violating several financial and banking laws including illegal deposit taking, money laundering and tax evasion.

“As you can see its business per usual,” an official from TGG-M told The Malaysian Insider during a visit today to its office in the upscale Mont Kiara suburb here.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they were aware of the news report but added Malaysian clients should not be spooked by the news report and that the local subsidiary is run separately from its Singapore parent.

“What happens in Singapore will not affect what is going on here. We are independent,” the official added.

Another senior official from TGG-M had told The Malaysian Insider in an earlier phone call that the company was “in the process of legally removing” Lee but did not explain the reason behind the decision.

The Gold Guarantee was added to Bank Negara’s Consumer Alert List on November 29, 2012, with its activity listed as “gold investment”.

According to Bank Negara’s website, the list is intended to alert the public of companies that are “neither authorised nor approved under the relevant laws and regulations administered by BNM”.

The central bank stated that the list is based on “information and queries” it receives, and it is only a non-exhaustive guide for the public.

Singapore broadsheet The Straits Times (ST) reported today that TGG investors in the Lion City are increasingly worried about the fate of their investments when they failed to contact Lee after he sent out a statement on the company’s future in an e-letter on January 8.

The e-letter had reportedly announced a merger between TGG and Asia Pacific Bullion, a precious metal trading company also owned by the now-missing Lee.

ST had reported that TGG could see itself facing legal troubles since TGG and Asia Pacific Bullion had been listed on the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s Investor Alert List of unlicensed entities.

The paper cited clients as saying TGG agents have been avoiding contact with its customers who are now worried over the fate of their investments after news of the merger went public.

Lee was also reported to have skipped out on a scheduled meeting last Monday to explain the situation to its clients.

The gold-trading industry in Malaysia has come under heavy public scrutiny since the Genneva scandal broke last year.

The fiasco had since left its Malaysian investors stranded without any legal recourse to reclaim their money from the gold scheme.

Genneva’s Singaporean branch is also under investigation by the island state’s Commercial Affairs Department.                   

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