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Singapore alleged nickel hoaxer gets new charges as victims grow

·2-min read
Ng Yu Zhi, a director of Envy Global Trading, arrives at the State Court in Singapore  April 20, 2021.  REUTERS/Edgar Su
Ng Yu Zhi faces additional charges of cheating seven individuals and firms, taking the number of purported victims to about 300. (PHOTO: REUTERS/Edgar Su)

By Chanyaporn Chanjaroen and Alfred Cang

(Bloomberg) — Ng Yu Zhi, the Singapore businessman charged for allegedly raising funds from investors for nickel trades that didn’t exist, faces additional charges of cheating seven individuals and firms, taking the number of purported victims to about 300.

Arun Murthy, former global head of commodities at Standard Chartered Plc, is among those named in the new charge sheets, seen by Bloomberg News. Singapore-based Murthy, who retired from the lender in 2016, was deceived — along with others — into investing in metal trade related to contracts that did not exist, according to the documents.

Ng cheated Murthy on no less than four occasions between October 2020 and January 2021 by convincing him to invest S$949,984.25 ($711,490) in the false nickel scheme, according to one of the charges. Murthy declined to comment when reached by phone.

In a case that has riveted Singapore’s moneyed classes, Ng was first charged in March for allegedly raising at least S$1 billion in what authorities have called one of the city-state’s largest-ever suspected investment fraud schemes. It’s also the latest in a series of scandals in the financial and commodities-trading hub, where assets under management have swelled to S$4 trillion, thanks largely to inflows from overseas.

Murthy’s case adds to a list of about 300 individual and institutional creditors, including Finian Tan, the high-profile founder of venture-capital firm Vickers Venture Partners. The new accusations take the number of charges against Ng to 19.

Singapore-based construction firm Debenho Pte., which allegedly invested S$14 million with Ng, and its managing director Low Teck Dee, who put in S$2.35 million, are also mentioned in the new charge sheets.

Low and Debenho filed a suit to the High Court against Ng earlier this year seeking S$23.1 million, primarily based on their losses related to their dealings with Ng and Envy Global Trading, according to the suit. A lawyer representing Low and Debenho didn’t immediately reply to an email seeking comment.

The fraud allegations against Ng centre on his dealings at Envy Asset Management and Envy Global Trading, companies he controlled and where he was a director. Of the more than S$1 billion that was invested in the companies, S$300 million was transferred to Ng’s personal account while an estimated S$200 million remains unaccounted for, prosecutors alleged in court proceedings in March.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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