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Businessman charged with cheating, linked to alleged $1b fraud

Businessman charged with cheating, linked to alleged $1b fraud

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 23 Mar 2021
Author: David Sun & Tay Peck Gek

Ng, the director of Envy Asset Management (EAM) and Envy Global Trading, was charged with two counts of cheating and two of being a party to fraudulent trading involving about $48 million.

A businessman charged yesterday has been linked to an alleged fraud involving at least $1 billion, the largest in Singapore's history.

Ng Yu Zhi, 33, is the director of two firms said to have raised the money from investors, purportedly to finance nickel trading.

The alleged victims were promised varying returns averaging 15 per cent over three months.

But the nickel trades never took place and the investors are still owed the money, the police said yesterday.

Ng, the director of Envy Asset Management (EAM) and Envy Global Trading, was charged with two counts of cheating and two of being a party to fraudulent trading involving about $48 million.

He is expected to face more charges at a later date.

Of the $1 billion invested in the companies between October 2017 and last month, about $300 million was allegedly transferred to his personal account. The Commercial Affairs Department has seized $100 million worth of assets from Ng.

Neither of the firms is licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). EAM has been on the MAS' investor alert list since March last year.

The MAS said it had received public feedback that EAM claimed it was in the process of applying for a licence, even though no application had been submitted.

The prosecution asked for $3 million cash bail in addition to electronic tagging. The court heard that Ng has family and access to assets overseas. He has a registered company with a London bank account and investments in Hong Kong, London and Switzerland.

Ng also has a child with a partner who has since returned to China, and had given her high-value gifts including several cars here.

The defence sought $1 million bail with e-tagging, citing the Ponzi scheme case of Sunshine Empire, where those accused were given bail of at most $800,000.

District Judge Terence Tay fixed bail at $1.5 million with e-tagging, and a 10pm to 6am curfew. It is believed to be the highest sum imposed since electronic monitoring was introduced as a condition of bail in 2018.

The case has been adjourned until May 17, and more charges are expected to be tendered by the prosecution. Ng is believed to be on remand. If convicted, he could be jailed for up to 10 years and fined for each count of cheating. For each count of fraudulent trading, he could be jailed for up to seven years, fined up to $15,000, or both.

Envy director charged with fraud; at least S$1b invested in his 2 firms

A director of Envy Asset Management and Envy Global Trading was charged on Monday with cheating and fraud. At least S$1 billion is believed to have been invested with these firms for the purported sale and purchase of nickel, making this one of the largest financial fraud cases in Singapore.

Ng Yu Zhi, 33, faces two charges of being a party to his two firms that were operated for fraudulent purposes and two charges of cheating a fund management company and its founder cum chief executive of at least S$48 million.

The prosecution alleges that Envy Asset Management had duped investors into lending it money between January 2018 and March 2020 to purchase nickel from Australia-listed Poseidon Nickel when no such purchases were made.

Envy Global Trading is said to have deceived investors between April 2020 and July 2020 into purchasing some receivables from its purported sale of nickel to BNP Paribas when there was no such transaction with the bank.

The investment contracts with the two firms were for a period of three months, with investors promised returns averaging 15 per cent. Many investors rolled over the contracts at the end of three months, reinvesting their principal and returns.

The prosecution, in seeking a bail of S$3 million and electronic tagging for Ng, told the district court that the outstanding funds invested with the two firms amounted to at least S$1 billion for the purported financing of nickel trading activities.

Current investigations showed about S$700 million was paid to investors, and S$300 million was transferred to Ng's personal account but about S$200 million remained unaccounted for. The police have seized assets valued at S$100 million from Ng.

The prosecution added that the accused has access to his significant assets overseas and his partner is in China with his child.

Ng's cheating offences accuse the Singaporean of swindling both Envysion Wealth Management between September 2020 and January this year out of S$35.7 million and US$9.2 million, and Envysion's founder and chief executive Veronica Shim Wai Han between November 2020 and January out of S$955,000 for its receivables due from Raffemet when no such payments were forthcoming.

Ng was offered bail at S$1.5 million with electronic monitoring imposed by the court. His case will be mentioned on May 17, when further charges may likely be tendered.

Ng's cheating charges each prescribe a mandatory jail term of up to 10 years, while the ones related to his firms in fraudulent operations each carry a maximum jail term of seven years.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in a statement on Monday that Envysion Wealth Management is a fund manager licensed by the authority. MAS has directed the fund manager to stop accepting investment for Envy Global Trading's nickel scheme, inform affected investors of the fund's status and the police investigation, and appoint an independent third party to oversee all transactions of the fund's bank accounts.

MAS is also conducting a supervisory review of Envysion Wealth Management to ascertain if its board and senior management have failed in governance or risk management.

Envy Asset Management and Envy Global Trading do not need a licence to deal in or invest funds in physical assets - as opposed to capital markets products - for qualified investors such as accredited investors and institutional investors.

MAS, however, is investigating to ascertain if the firms have been engaging in activities that would have required a licence. It placed Envy Asset Management on the Investor Alert List in March last year, which shows firms that may have been perceived as being licensed when they are not.

Ng is also active in the local food and beverage industry, as BT earlier reported that he has interests in at least three dining outlets including Nishikane, but these are said to be "not implicated in any investigations" and "continue to operate normally".

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.


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