Some 300 people who claim they lost US$ 1.5 million (K 1.65 billion) last June to one of Myanmar’s illegal futures exchange brokers are trying to bring the culprits to court, but the wheels of justice do not appear to be rolling in their favour. On October 8 the Finance Ministry belatedly warned the public not to deal with the illegal future exchange brokers operating in Yangon, months after the victims had already lost their money, claimants told Frontier.
“We are losing the protection of law enforcement mechanism,” said Ma Teresa, a Kachin ethnic woman and who lost K550 million in the alleged scam. “My colleague lost his money right before his planned wedding which he had to cancel,” she said.
Ko Kyaw Soe Win, one of the cheated clients of the company, Global Growth Company Ltd/Golden Global Company Ltd, who claims he lost K 50 million, said about 50 people had tried to lodge a complaint with the police and the Bureau of Special Investigation (BSI) when they were cheated in June. But Kyauktada police station, which is located near to the company’s office, rejected all complaints except for that of one man, a former army major, who claimed to have lost K 1,800 million.
The BSI asked many questions of the complainants but has yet to take action, Ko Kyaw Soe Win said.
Some of those claiming to have been cheated submitted an appeal to the Minister of Home Affairs, the parliaments’ related committee, the President’s Office and the Human Rights Commission in July, one month after they were cheated, but nobody has responded yet, Ma Margret said.
The government has expressed little sympathy and even some contempt for the defrauded.
“The people who were cheated by the company are not poor people,” Deputy Finance Minister Dr Maung Maung Thein, said, when asked to comment on the case. “Obviously, if they can invest a lot of money, they must rich, so, it is not problem for them.”
Global Growth/Golden Global was set up as a joint venture between Mr Ng Kwok Fai and a Myanmar citizen. Interpol has identified Mr Ng was a wanted person for cheating people in Vietnam in 2008.
In Myanmar the company was granted a money exchange license from the government but they ran it as a broker company claiming to invest in futures. The customers paid a deposit to the company, allowing them to open an online account to play the futures exchanges on commodity prices such as gold and oil via a mobile app platform named Meta Trader 4. The company, which was formed in 2013, leased the offices at Yangon’s upmarket Sakura Tower. For the first two years customers got 4.8 percent on their investments, then the money stopped and they couldn’t get their deposits back.
Ko Kyaw Soe Win said they believe that although Mr Ng has left the country, his Myanmar business partner should take the responsibility for paying back the money.
A police second lieutenant Ko Naing Lin from Kyauktada township police station who handled the case told Frontier “The problem is the former customers want to sue [the local partner]. We can’t file the case like that because it is irrelevant. If they want to file the case, they have to file a complaint about the foreigner who has already fled the country.”
After their complaints were rejected by the police, the township level court and ignored by the president’s office, BSI and the parliament, the claimants have now submitted their case to Yangon western district court, which will hear the case on December 7.
“We are not hoping to get back our money but we are still hoping for justice. All we need is justice,” Ko Kyaw Soe Win said.