Ponzi scheme founder goes from Singapore jail to KL court

Phang was previously convicted in Singapore and had served a nine-year sentence along with a S$60,000 fine for running a fraudulent trading company and falsifying accounts. — Reuters pic
Phang was previously convicted in Singapore and had served a nine-year sentence along with a S$60,000 fine for running a fraudulent trading company and falsifying accounts. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 22 — Singaporean James Phang was charged here yesterday with taking illegal deposits just a day after being released from prison in his home country.

The 58-year-old founder of Sunshine Empire who had gained notoriety for Singapore’s biggest Ponzi scheme, pleaded not guilty to two charges of violating Malaysia’s Banking and Financial Institutions Act 1989 at the Sessions Courts here yesterday, according to two Singapore news reports.

He was charged with accepting deposits without a valid license at Sunshine Empire’s two premises in Kuala Lumpur between July 14, 2006 and October 17, 2006, and between October 18, 2006 and April 4, 2008.

“He felt shocked. He did not know, he was not ready in fact to be charged in Malaysia. He thought initially that the case was over in Singapore and the Malaysian government or authorities would not charge him for whatever offences he was seen to have done in Malaysia.

“But unfortunately turn of events, he’s charged now in Malaysia,” Channel News Asia reported Phang’s lawyer Shah Rizal Abdul Manan as saying.

Bail for Phang was set at RM2 million for both charges and his passport was confiscated. He is also required to report in to the police every month.

Phang was previously convicted in Singapore and had served a nine-year sentence along with a S$60,000 fine for running a fraudulent trading company and falsifying accounts.

Singapore Straits Times reported that he was released last Wednesday but was taken to Malaysia on an extradition agreement.

The case’s is set for mention on January 26, 2018.

In June 2010, Sunshine Empire Sdn Bhd pleaded guilty to two charges of the same offence, and was fined RM1 million for each.

In what is believed to be one of the biggest Ponzi-like schemes in Singapore, Phang’s company sold “lifestyle packages” which promised its investors high returns.

However, the returns came from new investors, rather than genuine profits.

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