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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Gold scheme investors camp out at PMO gates


Not taking no for an answer, about 200 investors in a gold bar scheme today set up camp at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) gates in Putrajaya until they secure an appointment with the premier. 

NONEEquipped with mats, tents, pots and stoves, the group mainly comprised middle-aged and elderly former blue-collar workers from across the nation, who had poured theirlife savings into the failed Bestino gold scheme. 

“We are not doing this for fun. The PM has made this choice (for us to camp out here) as he cannot meet with us or even grant us an appointment within the next month,” group spokesperson K Kunasekaran said.

He said the decision to camp out arose after a previous attempt to secure an appointment was met with the reply that the matter had been referred to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM). 

A busload of investors had turned up at the PMO on Oct 18 to seek the appointment.

KNONEunasekaran said the reply was akin to telling investors to go round in circles as they had already submitted a memorandum to BNM last November.

The PMO was informed via fax and couriered mail that the investors would come again on Oct 22, but no reply was received, he said. 

“If they had written back to say the PM was busy, we could have set up another appointment,” he said after meeting with an officer, who he claimed could not guarantee an appointment this month.

NONEThe group represents 6,764 investors who have invested RM411 million in the scheme, which went belly-up when Bestino's directors charged on Feb 23, 2011 with illegal deposit taking and money laundering. 

Their woes precede that of hundreds of investors suffering as a result of a raid on the Genneva gold investment schemerecently. 

Since March last year, the Bestino investors have submitted at least six memoranda and multiple letters to the authorities.

‘Proof not forthcoming’


Several meetings have also been held, including one involving Bestino, Finance Minister II Husni Hanadzlah and the investors on Aug 29. 

Kunasekaran said that Bestino had claimed that it has funds in the British Virgin Islands and “gold nuggets in hand”, and promised to provide proof on Aug 31. 

HNONEe claimed that Husni had promised to arrange a meeting between the attorney-general and the investors' lawyer Tommy Thomas to discuss the outcome of the RM24.2 million frozen by BNM pending the directors' trials.

Bestino later asked for several extensions and failed to provide the proof by Oct 7, he said,  prompting the ministry to lodge a police report against the company director. 

He said that the meeting between the lawyers has also not materalised. 

NONE“We have come here several times by bus, using our own money and leaving our children at home, and this is how they treat us,” investor S Rani (right) said.

“I am a widow and when I made the investment, it came with a government certificate. Even doctors and lawyers invested. We didn't think it was for nothing.”

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