Woman charged for allegedly cheating investors out of millions in Ponzi scam

Wan Ting Koh
File photo of Singapore’s currency. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

A woman who made headlines over an alleged multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme involving numerous investors over several years was charged in court on Friday (10 November).

Leong Lai Yee, 53, was slapped with 84 fresh charges of deceiving individuals into believing that she would use their investment monies to finance the purchase of distressed properties in Singapore.

Leong was first charged on Saturday (4 November) with one count of deceiving Jenny Lim Siew Choo on 23 July 2014 into believing that Leong would use the monies to buy distressed properties in Singapore. Leong is said to have induced Lim into delivering $28,000 to a UOB bank account.

The total number of charges Leong faces is 85. She is accused of cheating $2,060,341 from four investors including Lim. The three others are Iris Tan Jit Tian, Tan Siew Hoon and Ong Jiak Jin. Leong allegedly induced money from all four on numerous occasions between January 2014 and April 2015.

According to past media reports, Leong went missing after failing to return 60 investors some $60 million which she owed in an alleged Ponzi scam. A Ponzi scheme involves an operator, in this case Leong, using money from new investors to pay as returns to previous investors. There is no actual business activity which generates profits in a Ponzi scheme.

Leong was given the monies by investors to buy prime area properties that were on the verge of being repossessed by the bank. She was supposed to sell these properties for profit to overseas buyers. Past reports alleged that Leong hooked in investors progressively over 15 years by promising them returns of 10 to 48 per cent within four to eight months.

Not only did the investors fail to receive their money in May 2015 after several rounds of delay, they received a suicide note from Leong, who became uncontactable after the date of supposed returns.

Leong, who was unrepresented, appeared in court on Friday dressed in a floral dress with her hair in a ponytail. She has been in remand since 4 November when she was first charged. Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Chin applied for Leong to be further remanded as she was “likely” to face additional charges.

Another of Leong’s investors, Chan Shwe Ching, commenced legal proceedings against her on 10 April 2015 for the return of $1.43 million. Leong will be back in court on 17 November. If convicted, Leong can be jailed up to 10 years and fined on each count of cheating.

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