KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 — JJPTR founder Johnson Lee confirmed that his company had incurred losses of US$400 million (RM1.7 billion), but claimed he could return this sum to his 400,000 “investors” globally within five years.
Lee, whose Penang-based unlicensed foreign exchange trading scheme was earlier reported to have collapsed after losing RM500 million to an alleged hacking, showed up in Penang for his first-ever face-to-face interview with the media.
Lee said he has currently fully refunded those who invested in the JJ2 account, and added that he will gradually refund members who had contributed to his company’s JJ1 account.
“I will no longer return it through a monthly 20 per cent dividend, but will return the capital to members in a lump sum. But, this will certainly take time, I believe this can be resolved in about four years,” he told Chinese-language business paper Nanyang Siang Pau.
Lee said he could have easily fled to the US to live comfortably, but insisted that he had never cheated anyone and would stay on in Malaysia instead of losing his remaining supporters and the respect of his friends.
“Because I was also once poor, so I know that feeling, I do not intend to cheat people, so I choose to face it,” he was also quoted saying.
Lee said that he will give discounts, but not force JJPTR’s current members to invest in the company’s latest scheme promising 35 per cent monthly returns — which is higher than the 20 per cent monthly dividend previously promised before the scheme collapsed.
He said that he has listed out various conditions for the new “investment” plan to make it easier for the public to join in, including setting a low entry point of US$25.
To counter greed among investors, Lee has also fixed a maximum investment amount of US$1,000 and will ensure that each investor only invests once by verifying their identity through the Malaysian identity card.
Lee revealed that only he and another individual managed JJPTR’s foreign exchange trading, insisting that providing the 20 per cent monthly dividend previously promised to members was not an impossible task.
He said the gains were through foreign exchange trading and bitcoin investment, claiming that others’ approach of putting a big bet due to greed resulted in huge losses. He said his “disciplined” approach instead limits daily earnings to 1 per cent to accumulate the lucrative monthly returns.
He also said that the company invests in a range of other tangible assets, such as in the film industry and grocery trade.
According to Nanyang, Lee had previously said JJPTR has 400,000 members in 18 countries, with 50,000 in China and 300,000 in Malaysia — including 150,000 in Penang alone.
In the interview, Lee confessed to being exhausted with having to deal with lawyers and the police daily, but was thankful that he had his team to back him up and to allow him a chance to rest and come out with the new scheme.
He also addressed news reports claiming that he had used JJPTR’s “investors’” hard-earned money to buy branded bags for his girlfriend.
“My girlfriend is an Internet celebrity and is also a young model, helping to endorse a lot of brands. Naturally she will receive sponsorship from these brands. Don’t need me to buy at all!” he said.
On Wednesday, local scambuster and financial adviser Afyan Mat Rawi was reported saying JJPTR’s new scheme offering 35 per cent is an unsustainable and illogical ploy to buy time and to pacify the company’s angry “investors”.
He added that the JJPTR scheme will collapse like most other pyramid schemes when there are no entry of new “investors”.
JJPTR, a foreign exchange trading firm said to have been active for a year, and its affiliated JJ Poor to Rich and JJ Global Network were listed on February 24 on Bank Negara Malaysia’s website as unauthorised and unapproved companies.
The central bank had on its website advised the public to not deal with or be involved in such illegal financial service providers, warning that they would not be covered by consumer protection laws and that they may even be charged with aiding the illegal operators.
Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department’s statistics reportedly showed a recorded 1,883 cases of investment scams from 2015 until April 2017 that resulted in around RM379.1 million of losses nationwide.
* An earlier version of this article contained an error in the currency conversion. The error has since been corrected.