A local businessman in his 30s, Simon Goh Chee Kin, is now in the wind after at least 7 local investors lodged police reports against his company Valiant Capital, a Singapore registered gold trading company, claiming that the dividends he had promised them were not paid to them and their queries to him went unanswered.
According to the victims, they had been trying to contact Goh but since June, the businessman has not been contactable. The company's office premises at Orchard Towers has also been vacant for months.
Investors said that Goh had used their money to finance his activities in Shanghai.
They invested a total of more than $2.5 million with the company, 6 of the investors told reporters.
All of the victims who spoke to reporters were former clients of the now- defunct gold trading firm Genneva Gold, which was raided by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) in 2012. The investors say Mr Goh is a former employee of Genneva who set up Valiant Capital in late 2012, promising to help them make back the money they lost.
Initially, they received monthly dividends of about 1 to 2% for several months, but then the payments stopped coming.
Mr Goh has also gotten himself into trouble in China, it seems. According to a 3rd July article in the Shanghai Morning Post, 300 Chinese investors, mostly senior citizens, were left stranded after investing an estimated 100 million yuan (S$22 million) with Valiant Capital's Shanghai office. They too cannot not contact Mr Goh.
According to court records of Shanghai Xuhui district, Mr Goh and his wife Sophia Low are due to appear before the court next May as defendants in a civil suit over private lending.
One of the Singaporean victims, Chandran Nair, 63, lost $374,000 with Genneva Gold, and said he invested another $79,000 with Valiant Capital because he trusted Mr Goh.
"He said he's a former police officer and he has a wife and three young children. I went for his son's first-year birthday party."
Mr Nair, a father of three, said he is now working as a security officer to make ends meet. "I trusted (Mr Goh). He was a real sweet talker. Now we're all in limbo."
When approached by the media, the co-director at Valiant Capital said he had no knowledge of Mr Goh's whereabouts and denied knowing anything about how the company operated. He said that while he is still listed as a director of the company, he had stopped working for Valiant Capital months ago and is currently driving an Uber taxi.
"I had no power, I just followed Simon's instructions. People may say I'm the co-director and it cannot be that I didn't know anything, but it's true (that I didn't). My family and friends also invested and their money is gone."
According to this co-director, Mr Goh's wife was finance director of the company. She is believed to be in Singapore, but could not be reached on her last known phone number.
Valiant Capital is the latest gold investment firm to come under the spotlight here. In 2012, more than 10,000 investors lost their money to Genneva Gold. A year later, The Gold Guarantee founder Lee Song Teck went on the run. In February this year, more than 100 people lodged reports with the CAD against Suisse International.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has announced that it plans to tighten regulations around such investment products, and will table new laws in parliament next year requiring all such schemes to be regulated by MAS.