Dual Raids on MBI Stores

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With yesterday’s raid in KL and Penang, the attention on financial schemes has temporarily shifted from JJPTR to MBI.

  • M Square raid in Ampang
  • M Mall raid in Penang
  • Gung-ho MBI members

A task force comprising enforcement officers from various agencies raided the M Square logistics centre in Kuala Lumpur, at around 11:00 am yesterday. Documents and computers were seized during the raid, which ended at about 7:00 pm.

The Star

The centre, located in Jalan Avenue 1, Ampang, is part of financial scheme operator MBI Group International. Shoppers redeem loyalty points for goods and services at the store, which sells a diverse range of products, including massage chairs, water purifiers, remote controlled cars and boats, bedsheets, watches, pens, power banks and instant coffee.

According to The Star, Khalid Tik, the Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry’s operations head, the company was being investigated under several Acts, among them the Direct Selling and Anti-Pyramid Scheme Act 1993, Financial Services Act 2013 and Companies Act 2016.

“If there are elements of wrongdoing in their business operations, we can take action under these Acts,” he said.

Enforcers from various agencies also raided M Mall in Penang, a “virtual money” shopping complex run by MBI International. It is believed that the five-hour operation was the first time the mall was raided.

The Star reported an MBI member who was at the mall saying: “The company has been quite untouchable all these years. No action was taken against MBI before but it’s different now. We have to be prepared for the worst.”

The raiding team arrived at noon and went straight to the mall’s fifth-floor management office. At around 4:00 pm, it proceeded to the ground floor and raided one of the outlets, Mcalls.

This is believed to be MBI’s telecommunications services outlet and the service centre for MMspot, MBI’s “shopping and barter system management platform”.

The raiding party seized four sealed suitcases, two large cardboard boxes, three reams of paper and two plastic bags filled with more sheets of paper.

Penang police were tight-lipped on the raid and only said, “Sorry. Bukit Aman case.”

Almost immediately after the raid, it was business as usual with shoppers continuing to purchase with their virtual money.

“This is not like (failed money game) JJPTR. MBI fulfilled its pro­mises. What wrong has M Mall done?” Jeffrey, a long-time MBI member, said.

He said he enjoyed spending his virtual money in M Mall, especially on meals with his family at the mall’s eateries.

“We can buy everything from household appliances to handphones with our points. We can even partially pay for cars and properties with our points,” he said.

“I know that many cannot accept this form of investment, but many others can. It is a new thing but it works,” he added.

On May 22, Bank Negara red-flagged MBI International, which is a subsidiary of the MBI group, for having a questionable financial scheme.

Members invest in the scheme and get virtual coins in return. After about a year, they can convert the coins into points to spend in services and retail outlets under the MBI umbrella such as M Mall.

The scheme gives substantial returns a year and is believed to be the longest-running financial scheme founded in Penang.

M Mall caused a stir earlier this month when MBI orga­nised a shopping carnival for 24,000 of its members from China. Many hotels on the island were fully booked and the hundreds of buses ferrying the group to the mall caused a massive traffic jam.

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