So many money game operators have gone bust in so short a time that such news has become commonplace. But by virtue of its sheer scale, the news of Maxim Trader’s collapse still shock the senses.
- Amassed more than RM20b within first two years
- More than 50,000 investors in 10 countries
- Red-flagged by Bank Negara soon after inception
- Defunct after two years
- Investors included politicians, high-ranking civil servants, entrepreneurs, professionals
- Tens of million seized by other countries following probes
- Grandiose plans that never took off
- Founders with Datuk Seri and Datuk titles
Launched four years ago, Maxim Trader is said to have amassed more than RM20 billion in funds within the first two years and is believed to be the biggest money game scheme identified here.
It boasts of more than 50,000 investors from Malaysia and at least 10 other countries, including Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Australia.
It was red-flagged by Bank Negara not long after its inception in 2013.
A company insider told The Sun Daily that over 90 percent of its funds were gone and the company was declared defunct in 2015, two years after it launched the scheme.
Apart from paying out returns to a fraction of investors, insiders claim that most of the funds were taken up by marketing costs.
The company spared no cost in marketing the scheme locally and overseas, including holding roadshows and even taking investors on trips to gold mines supposedly projected for investments.
Its corporate video was a professional and polished production meant to impress and insinuate that the company was a major international financial player.
Even seasoned investors were taken in by the grand scheme. Apparently, millions were pumped in by politicians, high-ranking civil servants, entrepreneurs, professionals and retirees.
Tens of million in funds were frozen and seized by the authorities of Taiwan, Korea, Japan and parts of China when they probed the company following complaints lodged by investors.
Since its operations ceased in June 2015, the scheme’s recruitment agents had assured disgruntled investors of fresh plans to revive the scheme.
These included the purported acquisition of several companies, including RMC Mining Sdn Bhd (RMC) and two US-registered companies – Royale Group Holdings (ROGP) and India Globalisation Capital Incorporated (IGC).
It was said that investors were forced to accept shares in these companies in exchange for their investments, under the agreement that the companies will be public-listed.
Apparently, the plan never materialised and the companies were disposed of by Maxim Trader.
The grandiose plans of developing a high-end township in Songkhla, Thailand and in Genting Highlands also never took off.
Businessman Abdul Rahman Abdullah, 65, who invested RM360,000, said he recently met a former senior official of the scheme’s administration who confirmed that Maxim Trader was a defunct company but there were plans to revive it.
“I was told that the most recent plan is to public list a company in the China stock market and shares will be given to investors. It is another so-called plan like all the others in the past and I am not buying it this time. I have had it with them and want a full refund. They made me an offer of a partial refund but I want my money in full.
“I will soon embark on a ‘roadshow’ to meet all affected investors in all the countries Maxim Trader had ventured into to seek justice. We will work towards recovering our funds by all means” he said.
Alan Tan, an accountant who invested more than RM1.5 million in the scheme, said that he intends to join Abdul Rahman on the roadshow.
Abdul Rahman is among a group of victims who have formed a committee and appointed a KL-based law firm to seek legal recourse in the recovery of their monies.
Sreether Sundram is a partner in law firm Messrs Murali B Pillai which is undertaking the recovery for the group of investors.
“We believe we have a strong case and are optimistic of recovering the funds. We have begun gathering evidence and will take all necessary steps to realise the recovery,” he said.
With Maxim Trader believed to be registered in the Seychelles, the recovery process is likely to be tedious and lengthy.
The insider offered an alternative suggestion – that investors seek the recruitment agents who roped them into the scheme and demand refunds.
“These upline agents made a lot of money and became millionaires by recruiting investors. Perhaps they (investors) can recover part of their investments if they sue agents for misleading them,” said the insider.
“Then, there are also assets such as a large tract of land in Genting Highlands acquired by Maxim Trader. To whom will these assets go since the company has gone bust?”
Among the investors who have waited patiently for more than two years to get their money back are a small number who are hopeful that pressuring the management might work.
An investor who declined to be named said it took him a whole year of badgering the bosses of Maxim Trader before he recovered over RM100,000 he had invested.
“If you don’t chase them, then they will comfortably pocket the money. I believe this was their plan all along. If just 10% of the aggressively pursuing investors are repaid, they still get to keep the remaining billions of ringgit of other investors who have chosen not to go after them. Seeing the way it was launched and how they made their exit, it is perhaps the most well-planned Ponzi scheme ever,” he said.
In Australia, several hundred investors who lost millions of dollars to the scheme are in the dark since the company went “silent” more than two years ago.
Sumathy Menon, 58, a former Malaysian who took up Australian citizenship two decades ago said she invested US$30,000 when the company went on a roadshow in Australia in 2014.
Sumathy said she is at her wits’ end as there are no longer representatives of the company who keep them updated on the status of their investments.
Several investors who spoke to The Sun expressed anger and disgust on learning the founders and top officials of Maxim Trader had turned a deaf ear to their woes and were instead enjoying the high life.
Three Malaysians, a Datuk Seri and two Datuks aged between 30 and 60, were named the founders of the company while several foreigners were appointed to top positions as heads of finance, trading and communications.
According to investors, the bosses were moving about freely in flashy cars and living in luxury in Petaling Jaya, Bandar Sunway and Taman OUG in the Klang Valley.
Several victims have lodged reports with the police and Bank Negara. Apparently, there is no full-scale probe or action taken by the authorities as yet.