Ipoh firm to return original investment
IPOH: More than 6,000 people who invested their hard-earned money in a gold investment scheme between 2006 and 2009 can now heave a sigh of relief.
Bestino Golden House Sdn Bhd, the Ipoh-based company which ran the gold investment scheme, yesterday announced that it would be returning every ringgit invested in the scheme.
Company director Chong Yuk Ming said the decision to pay back the RM411.19 million to 6,740 investors was proof of the company's bona fide operations.
He stressed that Bestino was not a "fly by night" company and that its investment scheme was based on a sound business model which promised good returns to its investors.
"Between 2006 and June 2009, the company had been paying out dividends as promised to the investors.
"We had to suspend our operations when Bank Negara Malaysia and Securities Commission began investigations into the company in the middle of June 2009," he told reporters from selected media groups, including the New Straits Times, at his house in First Garden here yesterday.
Chong and three other company directors were charged earlier this year at the Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court on more than 300 charges of money laundering and receiving deposits without a valid licence.
The charges were framed under the Banking And Financial Institutions Act 1989 and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2001.
According to Chong, Bestino had been paying dividends of three per cent per month on each investment in each cycle of investment of six months.
"We were able pay up to 18 per cent in dividends every six months because of our sound business model.
"In fact, just a couple of months prior to the start of the official investigations in June 2009, our company had started to mine gold at two mines in Papua New Guinea," he said.
All operations had to be halted, he added, when Bank Negara froze the company's accounts in Malaysia.
On how the company planned to raise money to pay back its investors, Chong said its overseas staff were working out a solution, including liquidating its assets in foreign countries.
He said the company would pay the money in instalments, starting with a payout of 25 per cent on the original investment.
The money would be paid back through an administrator agreed to by Bank Negara.
Chong also pleaded with investors not to blame the company's appointed sales and investment agents as the latter were not responsible for managing the clients' investments.