Gold scam victims painful loss
Their dreams are shattered and they are feeling deep pain.
Mr Chandran Nair, 63, and another man, who wanted to be known only as Mr Chye, have lost huge sums in gold buy-back investment schemes.
Mr Chye, 41, put his loss at $2.2 million while Mr Nair said he lost $550,000 of his life savings.
They are unable to contact the man behind the scheme.
These losses have caused a painful change of lifestyle for Mr Chye and a stark realisation for Mr Nair that all the decades of sacrifice to build up his nest egg has come to naught.
Here are their stories.
FROM BUSINESSMAN TO JUICE SELLER
He ate at top restaurants where each meal easily cost him a “three-figure sum”, he said.
But after sinking a whopping $2.2 million into a gold buy-back investment scheme with Singapore-registered Valiant Capital in 2013, he is now forced to manage a fruit juice stall because it promised a more stable income, he told Your Voice Asia on Monday.
Investors like Mr Chye are now on shaky ground because one of the company’s directors who supposedly called the shots, Mr Simon Goh Chee Kin, has gone missing. (See report below.)
Valiant Capital allegedly stopped paying monthly dividends to its investors after several months, allegedly citing slow business.
Said Mr Chye, a father of two young boys: “It’s not only my money. Some of it belonged to my relatives and friends. It’s all hard-earned money. It affects us a lot and our lifestyle has changed.”
Mr Chye spends an average of 16 hours a day at his fruit juice stall “just to make a few thousand dollars a month”.
Although Mr Goh has stopped paying monthly dividends to Mr Chye, the latter continues to pay his backers a total of around $8,000 each month. The money comes partly from his earnings and partly from his savings.
Mr Chye said: “I had promised them the 2 per cent, so I will honour it even when it’s a painful commitment for me.
“They (relatives and friends) were obviously frustrated with me when all this happened. They didn’t say anything bad to me, but their unhappy faces said it all.”
Still, he considers himself lucky to have a stable income despite earning “several times more” previously.
Said Mr Chye: The days of eating abalone at Ah Yat Seafood Restaurant or Crystal Jade are over. It’s all simple meals at coffee shops now. And I have not gone for a holiday in the last year.”
LIFE SAVINGS GONE
That the loss of $550,000 has hit Mr Nair badly is an understatement.
Said Mr Nair: “I inherited so much stress trying to recover what belongs to me. There were frequent misunderstandings with my wife and eldest daughter.”
The retired Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) warrant officer, who previously drew a monthly salary of about $6,000, now works in the security industry.
With a monthly salary of $1,400, Mr Nair’s financial situation has yet to improve.
Mr Nair, who has three daughters aged 14 to 29, said: “For 36 years, all I did was to save money.
“I didn’t go drinking or take my family to lavish Indian restaurants. I could save (money) because my uniform, meals and transport were provided for by the SAF.”
His misery is compounded by the fact that he lost money not once but twice to the same buy-back scheme.
Mr Nair first met Mr Goh in 2010 when the latter was a relations executive with Genneva Gold, now a defunct gold trading company that was raided by the authorities in 2012.
In Jan 27, 2010, Mr Goh allegedly sold a 1kg gold bar to Mr Nair for about $60,000.
In the next two years, to get more on his dividends, Mr Nair put into Genneva Gold a total of $374,000 or 11kg of gold.
When Genneva Gold was shut down, Mr Goh started Valiant Capital in 2013.
Said Mr Nair: “Simon said he could help recover our lost investments if we invested in Valiant Capital.”
Mr Nair “pumped” a further $79,000 with Mr Goh, who became a director of Valiant Capital.
TNP understands Mr Nair had also lent Mr Goh a substantial amount of money throughout the years, according to documents signed by Mr Goh and his wife.
From July 2013 and for the next 11 months, Mr Nair received $1,500 a month.
But in July 2014, the payments stopped.
To date, attempts to recover Mr Nair’s money and the gold, which had been surrendered to Valiant Capital for safe-keeping and a bigger monthly dividend, have all failed.
A cheque of $79,000 issued to Mr Nair by Valiant Capital’s co-director Alvin Wee bounced in December 2014.
Mr Nair and 20 other investors have started a chat group to keep everyone abreast of the situation and of Mr Goh’s possible whereabouts.
Said Mr Nair: “As a father, it’s embarrassing that I have not bought any birthday presents for my daughters for the last three years.
“As a family, we now shop less and we don’t celebrate any festivities. Sadly, my plan to reward the family with a car has to be put on hold.”