A FIRM is at the centre of a police investigation after a customer claimed to have lost $300,000 which was invested in gold bars.
Bao Jing Trading is believed to be having cashflow problems, and there are fears that about 120 investors could lose up to $40 million.
At least two more police reports have been made against the company, based in the Rochor Centre, The Straits Times understands.
But many investors are afraid to approach the authorities for fear the firm will not give them their money back, according to one alleged victim.
Bao Jing - which is not licensed or regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore - pitched its gold trading scheme as a way to help customers cash in on the rocketing price of the precious metal, which tends to rise in value during periods of slow economic growth.
Investors were promised monthly returns of between 1.5 per cent and 3 per cent, said a report by Shin Min Daily News. But if they left the bars with the company, they could get between 7 per cent and 10 per cent, the newspaper added.
The customers realised something was wrong when the firm failed to pay the promised returns.
A 70-year-old woman, who wanted to be known only as Madam Yen, told The Straits Times that she had lost more than $200,000 after being introduced to the company by a friend.
She said that when she made a trip to its office, the boss told her he would not give her back the cash if she went to the police. 'I'm heartbroken... this money is more than half my retirement savings,' she said in Mandarin.
In desperation, she and about 20 other investors decided to confront the company's owners on Monday, gathering outside the office's glass doors to ask for their money back. The owners failed to show up and the office has been empty since.
Bao Jing is run by Malaysians Lee Chee Woi, a permanent resident, and Cheong Kok Heng, according to records held by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority.
Mr Lee registered his company at a local address, in an HDB flat in Jurong East.
But when The Straits Times paid a visit, it turned out to be occupied by a family who denied any links with the firm.
A 38-year-old man in the flat, who wanted to be known only as Mr Pang, said Mr Lee lives in Malaysia but uses his Singapore address to receive mail.
'We're ex-colleagues,' he said. 'All his letters come under my address but I pass them to another colleague of mine who is an acquaintance we both know. I think it's a misunderstanding. All along, his company has been doing well. He won't do this sort of thing.'
Shin Min also reported yesterday that Mr Cheong was once arrested in Malaysia for money-laundering offences.