A 33-year-old Singaporean Ng Yu Zhi was charged in court earlier today for cheating. Ng is alleged to have scammed investors via a nickel investment scheme with at least $1 billion in funds involved. He is also charged for cheating at least $48 million from a fund management company, Envysion Wealth Management

The alleged offences took place between Oct 2017 and Feb this year.

Ng, director of Envy Asset Management (EAM) and Envy Global Trading (EGT) was granted bail of $1.5 million, plus electronic tagging. The bail amount is believed to be the highest thus far since electric monitoring was introduced.

EAM is alleged to have borrowed money from investors to purchase nickel from one Poseidon Nickel when in fact the company made no purchase of nickel.

EGT, meanwhile, is alleged to have deceived investors to purchase a portion of receivables from its purported sale of nickel to BNP Paribas through forward contracts when there was no such sale.

Get the latest Singapore corporate news stories for FREE

SEE:Silkroad Nickel's Datuk Lim Kean Tin ceases to be non-executive and non-independent director of company

The investment contracts with EAM and EGT were for an investment period of three months. Investors were promised varying returns, which averaged 15%. At the end of the investment period, many investors rolled over their contracts and reinvested both their principal and returns.

If convicted, Ng faces a mandatory jail term of up to 10 years.

Based on investigations thus far, at least $1 billion had been invested in EAM and EGT, purportedly for the purchase of nickel.

Out of this amount, some $700 million was paid to investors, and $300 million was transferred to Ng’s personal account.

The Commercial Affairs Department has seized around $100 million worth of assets from Ng and an estimated $200 million remains unaccounted for.

Prosecution’s view is that Ng has access to overseas assets and has family overseas. He has a child with a partner whom he gave high-value gifts. She has since returned to China.

In addition to a BVI registered company with a London bank account, Ng has also invested in at least three other companies in Hong Kong, London and a fund management company in Switzerland.

The case was also adjourned to May 17 and additional charges are expected on top of the four he is already slapped with.

In a statement, the Monetary Authority of Singapore notes that firms that deal in or invest funds for qualified investors in physical assets, as what Ng purportedly did, are not required to be licensed by MAS.

“This approach is broadly similar to that taken in other major financial centres. MAS is nevertheless examining EAM’s and EGT’s investment documents and other available evidence to see if they have been engaging in capital markets products or in any activity that would have required the two firms to obtain a MAS licence,” MAS adds.