In Malaysia, they raided a number of landbanking companies in Oct 2008[Link] including Profitable Plots. We may laugh at Malaysians for losing those jet engines and other negative demonstrations of competence but they did stop those toxic Lehman Minibonds from entering their country, recovered most of the money from Swiss-cash scam[Link] and yes, they are ahead in shutting down these landbanking scams. In Singapore, investors have to take matters into their own hands when it comes to unregulated investments and these group of desperate investors saw no other way to get their money back other than to turn up at Profitable Group's office to demand for it.
I was at a recent investment fair Asian Investment Conference & Exhibition at Suntec[Link] and there were several companies offering investments in commercial real estate in western countries. One sales girl I spoke to promised guaranteed returns on investments and so on. Many Singaporeans like such 'guarantees' and these companies are willing to put it down on paper. However, when they don't honor it, what can you do? Spend money to sue them? Report them to the police? These companies can just shutdown and disappear and you won't get a cent back. In fact guaranteed returns are a red flag especially if they are high (8% and above). If they can guaranteed returns, why are they selling the investment to you instead of keeping it for themselves? Investors who purchased products from Profitable Group are now finding it hard to get anything back despite the promises the company made earlier. In many countries such as Malaysia the authorities will quickly step in so that the maximum amount of money can be recovered. In Singapore they will probably wave this notion of "buyer beware"....basically its "you die, your business".
I urge Singaporeans to keep their investments simple - buy only things you can understand. A simple combination of dividend paying blue chip companies, sufficient insurance and some cash for emergencies will do for most people. Forget foreign property sold here. Why do you think they market these investments here? In Singapore, we pay the highest price for public housing in the world ($600K for a unit at Duxton) and that makes us think that a $100,000 landed property in suburban Australia is cheap. The truth is they might have marked the property up by 100% before selling it here. If you want to buy a property in Australia, get in touch with friends or relatives there who know the market and agents with good reputation. Never buy something marketed here - they sell it here because they can't sell it for the same price back home to people familiar with the market prices.
Shouting, then shoving [Link]
By ZAIHAN MOHAMED YUSOF
THEY came to demand answers and they were in no mood to take no for an answer.
So they marched up to two Caucasian men who were having a smoke and surrounded them.
The group of 11 men and one woman wanted to talk to one of the Caucasian men regarding their investments.
They identified him as Mr John Nordmann, group operations director of Profitable Group, a global investment firm, which, according to its website, has interests ranging from lubricants to property.
They claimed that the firm had not made good on its promises to them.
But the conversation outside Profitable Group's Stanley Street office in Shenton Way soon spiralled out of control into a shouting match. There was even some pushing.
Mr Nordmann told the group: "Calm down.Why don't you e-mail me your individual cases?"
His suggestion was not only instantly rejected, but it also upset some of the investors.
Said one of them, who gave his name only as Chris: "We have been e-mailing you for the last one year. Stop treating us as though we do not exist."
The shouting outside the office around 3pm attracted the attention of people at a coffee shop nearby. They got up from their seats and turned their heads towards the commotion.
This was when Mr Nordmann invited the group to go up to the firm's office to discuss the matter.
One of those in the group, a 37-year-old who gave his name only as Mr Rajan, was overheard saying to a fellow investor: "We're actually very lucky to see the director outside the office. We were always referred to his subordinates every time we came here."
The day's confrontation had its beginnings with the group's investments with Profitable Group between 2006 and 2009.
They said the terms of their investments, which they claimed promised them a certain return after six months, had not been honoured.
The 12 people claimed that their individual investments in land and lubricants with Profitable Group totalled about $700,000.
And none of them had received any returns, they claimed. They had met on an online forum where they shared their experiences.
Chris claimed he had "pumped in" the most money.
"I have invested more than $180,000... Enough is enough, I'm willing to forfeit my returns so long as the company pay me back the money I have put in," he said.
After Mr Nordmann's invitation to the group, another commotion broke out. An investor later told The New Paper that they were upset because he wanted to go up first whereas they wanted to group with him.
During the tense exchange, Mr Nordmann managed to take the lift to his office.