SINGAPORE – It is a new form of investment that emerged here last year, but the lucrative returns on gold investment schemes – from 4 per cent every three months to 9 per cent after six months – are proving irresistible to many investors.
It is believed to have already attracted thousands of people who have sunk in millions of dollars.
Yet, even as more gold investment companies sprout here, one firm, The Gold Label, has already landed on the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) Investor Alert List (IAL), prompting some investment experts to caution people against this new product.
The IAL warns consumers about unregulated persons who are not licensed or authorised by the MAS.
The Gold Label, which was incorporated in April last year and is believed to be among the bigger gold investment companies here, was included on the IAL on Nov 28.
The company sells gold at 25 per cent above the market price. Investors hold their gold for six months before selling it back for the entire principal sum invested.
Profits come in the form of 3-per-cent interest on the day of purchase, and at the three-month and six-month marks, making a total of 9 per cent.
According to checks with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority Singapore, the company’s directors filed a notice on Oct 8 this year declaring its inability to continue business by reasons of its liabilities.
Three days later, it filed another notice of the appointment of provisional liquidators for voluntary winding-up.
To The Gold Label’s investors and even its own agents, however, nothing seemed out of the ordinary until some clients went to its Battery Road office on Monday to receive their payouts.
Staff of the firm – which has some 1,000 clients according to its former agents – dropped the bombshell that it was facing cashflow problems and would delay their payouts for nine to 12 months.
Some of these investors, who pumped in thousands to hundreds of thousands each, have since gone to the Commercial Affairs Department.
One of them, undergraduate Gladys Siahaan, 22, who invested $22,000, told Media-Corp: “It’s quite ridiculous for them not to honour their contracts with investors.
“Their business is going on as usual, people are still buying, but they say they can’t afford to pay us back.”
The Gold Label’s general manager for operations, Ms Joanne Lim, would only say that there is “no doubt that there’s a cashflow situation within the company” but the company is “trying its best to help clients”.
In response to MediaCorp’s queries, an MAS spokesperson said consumers are “strongly encouraged” to deal only with persons regulated by MAS.
“MAS aims to safeguard the interests of consumers by ensuring that only competent and professional persons are allowed to provide financial services,” the spokesperson said.
“The laws administered by MAS also require disclosure of information on investment products being recommended to consumers.
“If consumers choose to deal with persons that are not regulated by MAS, they forego the protection afforded under laws administered by MAS.”
Sometimes, all that glitters …