Thirteen Maxim Trader Group executives and employees yesterday were found guilty by the New Taipei District Court of defrauding investors in Taiwan of about NT$13.9 billion (US$453 million at the current exchange rate) between 2013 and 2015.
Maxim Trader executives and its promoters touted the firm’s forex trading, mutual funds and other investment opportunities with a promised monthly return on investment (ROI) of between 3 and 8 percent and as much as 98 percent within a year.
However, an investigation determined the company was operating a Ponzi scheme, in which the main operators were Singaporeans who had registered the company in Malaysia and New Zealand.
About 50,000 people from Taiwan, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, China, Japan, South Korea and Australia invested with the company before it collapsed in 2015.
Maxim Trader’s Taiwan chief executive Chang Chin-su (張金素) was sentenced to 11 years in prison and fined NT$100 million, while his chief assistant, Chia Hsiang-chieh (賈翔傑), was sentenced to nine years and fined NT$50 million.
Other local employees found guilty of contravening the Banking Act (銀行法), financial fraud and related charges included Chang’s sister, Chang Mu-tan (張牡丹), financial advisers and course instructors.
Chang Mu-tan was given a five-year sentence, while the others received terms ranging from three to eight years, and fines of up to NT$50 million.
Yesterday’s ruling was the first in the case and can be appealed.
A woman surnamed Ho (何) who attended the sentencing hearing said she had lost her life savings of NT$2.84 million.
“Some defendants changed their names and continue to deceive people with investment scams,” Ho said. “The sentences are too lenient. As a member of the victims’ group, I want to appeal for them to receive a sentence of at least 14 or 15 years. Only then can society deter such fraudsters.”
The defendants gained the trust of investors by claiming Maxim Trader was an affiliate of Royale Globe Holding, a NASDAQ-listed company.
However, investigators found they had simply registered shell entities in Taiwan and transferred investors’ money into bank accounts overseas.
Judicial authorities said Maxim Trader offices around the region held seminars and “financial investment courses” to attract investors, and encouraged investors to recruit other people.
The Ministry of Justice Investigation Bureau in 2015 raided 16 locations linked to the company, seizing about NT$75.96 million in cash, along with jewelry, luxury watches, brand-name handbags and luxury cars, including Maseratis, Bentleys and BMWs.
The company began operations in Malaysia, with ties to shell companies incorporated in the Seychelles and New Zealand.
Malaysian authorities earlier this year indicted three Singaporeans, New Zealand-incorporated Maxim Capital chief executive Andrew Lim Ann Hoe, and company executives Chin Ming Kam and Goh Seow Mooi on charges of promoting a pyramid selling scheme known as the Maxim Trader Compensation Plan.
Malaysian investigators estimated that 50,000 investors around Asia had lost a total of US$5 billion.
Taiwan might be China’s next target after it has “walled off” Hong Kong from the rest of the world with its new national security legislation, Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology fellow Wu Jieh-min (吳介民) said on Thursday. At a seminar organized by the Economic Democracy Union, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, the Hong Kong Outlanders and the Judicial Reform Foundation, Wu said that the legislation is simultaneously a fig leaf concealing Beijing’s autocratic rule in Hong Kong and a figurative “Berlin Wall,” denying democratic countries access to Hong Kong. Wu said it is evident that Taiwan would be China’s next target. The
YOUNGEST PATIENT: Cases of botulism have been only sporadically reported over the past few years, with two in 2015, six in 2016 and none in the past three years The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday reported the nation’s first case of infant botulism this year, a four-month-old boy in northern Taiwan, as well as five new cases of Japanese encephalitis confirmed last week. The boy was introduced to homemade solid food in the middle of last month, but began to experience constipation and loss of appetite on June 23, CDC Epidemic Intelligence Center Deputy Director Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉) said, adding that he was taken to the hospital when he developed a fever and shortness of breath on June 25. In the hospital, the boy also experienced a rapid heartbeat, limb
The National Taiwan Museum’s Railway Department Park in Taipei is to open to the public today. The park in Datong District (大同) near the North Gate (北門, Beimen) is one of the museum’s four branches. During the Japanese colonial era, the site housed the railway department of the Office of the Governor-General of Taiwan’s Bureau of Transportation. After World War II, it served as the headquarters for the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) for several decades. In 2007, it was listed as a national monument under the Cultural Heritage Preservation Act (文化資產保存法). At an opening ceremony yesterday, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung
CHALLENGER DEEP: Lin Ying-Tsong was invited by Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo to join him on a 10-hour long trip in the company’s submersible Taiwanese-American Lin Ying-Tsong (林穎聰) last month became the first person from Asia and the 12th in human history to dive into the deepest part on Earth, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. Lin, 45, an expert in deep sea acoustics with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts, joined US adventurer and Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo, 54, on June 22 in a descent to the central pool of the Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the trench, which lies at a depth of more than 10,900m. The pair made the descent in a submersible named Limiting Factor, a US$37