Is ‘future richest man in the world’ making a comeback?

The billboard on Penang Bridge which captured the eye of island-bound motorists. It has since been brought down after the scheme caught the attention of authorities. ― Malay Mail pic
The billboard on Penang Bridge which captured the eye of island-bound motorists. It has since been brought down after the scheme caught the attention of authorities. ― Malay Mail pic

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GEORGE TOWN, June 7 — A purported charity dinner has raised eyebrows as to whether another multi-level investment scheme was in the offing, or if a previous one was being revived.

Police have yet to detect anything amiss over the purported charity dinner on Sunday, but declined to confirm if it was organised by associates linked to the controversial YSLM multi-level marketing investment scheme founder Zhang Jian.

Zhang made headlines in 2014 when a billboard along the Penang Bridge had depicted him as the “future richest man in the world”.

He remains under investigation although he had fled the country then amidst an investigation into elements of cheating in his flagship direct selling model, YSLM.

Some three years ago, his company was investigated by Bank Negara and police for an alleged fraudulent direct selling scheme which drew ire from investors, believed to be thousands of Malaysians.

Many bought into his elaborate investment scheme whereby investing a mere RM300, they were guaranteed returns between RM2,700 and RM6,800 a month.

His get-rich-quick-scheme was shaped under a pyramid model where funds collected from China, Thailand and Malaysia were spread out across the three borders for the investors to receive huge returns.

The company’s activities apparently ended in 2014 when he was reportedly arrested by Thai police on the island resort of Phuket. He was nabbed together with his wife Yoyo Wang Wen Fang, an aide Geng Lian Bao and three other unidentified persons.

The cops’ contention was that he was being investigated for allegedly scamming RM605 million from thousands of people in China, Malaysia and Thailand.

The Chinese embassy in Malaysia also issued a statement that YSLM was found to have conducted an illegal scheme in China.

But there was no mention of whether he was charged in court or had fled elsewhere despite his arrest receiving much publicity.

In Malaysia, his scheme did not receive approval from the authorities.

There was no mention about Zhang and his schemes for three years until late last year where the first of a series of charity dinners were held. Gifts, including cars, were handed over to recipients who were allegedly deserving of help.

It has since been suggested in the Chinese newspapers that since the start of this year, associates affiliated to him were setting up a new direct selling scheme.

To mark the so-called reemergence of Zhang, dinners were held in Johor, Selangor and Sabah. On Sunday, a dinner was held at the residents’ association hall at Chai Leng Park, Penang, which saw some 1,000 people turn up.

At all dinners, the diners offered the same demographic — women with shaved heads, men with dyed blonde hair, and most were China nationals.

Attempts to contact the YSLM office in Penang proved futile as the numbers were inactive.

Penang police chief Comm Datuk Chuah Ghee Lye told Malay Mail no offence was committed as it was just a dinner.

“It was a normal gathering, strictly for members or associates only. Outsiders and the media were barred from entering so it was defined as a private function,” he said.

“The police can only probe if a report was lodged about the dinner and if there elements of cheating.”

Chuah said police were monitoring the charity dinners since Zhang remains a person of interest to the police.

Earlier this year, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar was reported to have said Zhang’s activities were under scrutiny, especially over the motive behind the dinners.

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