1.2Billion Lost in Alleged Scam

Chinese Up in Arms Over $1.2 Billion Lost in Alleged Scam

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-14/geneva-whodunit-has-chinese-alleging-1-2-billion-currency-scam

Geneva Whodunit Has Chinese Up in Arms Over $1.2 Billion Lost in Alleged Scam
by Giles Broom, Alfred Liu
June 15, 2015 — 1:00 AM CEST
Updated on June 15, 2015 — 8:55 AM CEST(Bloomberg) –- Some Chinese investors are now taking to the streets in Beijing and Hong Kong as they protest and alleged currency scam. Victims say nearly 30,000 were robbed of more than $1B.
Street protests in Beijing and Hong Kong. Chinese investors flying 5,000 miles to show up on doorsteps in Geneva and demand their money back. It’s the fallout so far from an alleged scam that its victims say robbed 29,000 Chinese investors of $1.2 billion.They were promised returns of as much as 10 percent a month from currency trading by API Premiere Swiss Trust AG and associated companies, according to interviews with six victims and documents they shared over the past three months. The money disappeared from their accounts in January, the investors said.“We wanted to know the truth,” said Chen Biya, 43, an advertising agency owner in Beijing who flew to Geneva in late March with two dozen fellow investors to try to recover their missing millions. They sought redress at API’s locked former offices, the public prosecutor and in meetings with lawyers, then went to Bern and Zurich to appeal to the Chinese embassy and Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, known as Finma, he said. “But nobody has been able to tell us the entire story.”

Unprecedented billions of yuan flowing from China and into investments around the world are creating opportunities for fraudsters, as well as legitimate money managers trying to get their hands on the cash. The cross-border nature of the flows is posing challenges for regulators and crime fighters alike.

More Vulnerable

“Frankly, the law enforcement authorities tend to be focused only within their own jurisdictions and move deadly slowly on investigations,” said Steve Vickers of Hong Kong-based risk consultancy Steve Vickers & Associates, who said the large amounts of capital seeking offshore havens, some by circumventing China’s currency controls, make Chinese more vulnerable to cross-border crime.

Geneva’s public prosecutor confirmed it’s investigating API and an associated company, Alpen Asset Management Trust Sarl — both described as “heavily indebted” by Finma, which initiated bankruptcy proceedings against them last month. In January, Finma issued a public warning that API and Alpen were wrongly claiming to be licensed and supervised by the Swiss regulator. It came about 10 days after the investors said they discovered their accounts had been emptied.

Representatives of API and Alpen couldn’t be contacted, except for the former API director listed in the Swiss public register, Aleksander Kaja, who declined to comment. Offices formerly used by API in Geneva were vacated months ago, while a Hong Kong office was also abandoned, with a writ for unpaid rent left stuck to the doors.
Swiss Image

“Both companies used their Swiss image to attract new clients, although they were mainly managed from abroad,” said Vinzenz Mathys, a spokesman for Bern-based Finma. “This, along with the losses endured by depositors, has a negative impact on the Swiss financial market’s good reputation.”

Chinese investors said they thought the company’s claim it was regulated in Switzerland made it secure.

API Investors Protest

API Premiere Swiss Trust AG investors hold signs during a protest outside the the government’s petition office in Beijing, China.
Han Mingyun via Bloomberg

“Switzerland is famous for its financial-services industry,” said Han Mingyun, a 65-year-old widow in Wuhan who said she was lured by the promise of a Swiss investment and saw $45,000 in savings disappear. “They are supposed to be the best and safe.”

Asked last week about the alleged scam and API’s use of Switzerland to draw investors from China, Finma’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Branson said: “Where there is a financial center, people will always try to take advantage.”
Beijing Protests

In Beijing, scores of investors have held four protests, the latest last week outside the Embassy of Switzerland, urging the Swiss government to work with China on the investigation.

On May 20, they protested outside the government petition office in Dongcheng district, urging that Chinese police set up a unit to investigate. The Beijing Public Security Bureau and Ministry of Public Security didn’t respond to faxed requests for comment. Two telephone calls to the petition office went unanswered.

“We want the police to strengthen their investigation,” said Han, the widow, who took part in the latest Beijing protest. “People around the country are still suffering from the scam.”

The investors said they are aware of complaints from places including Shanghai, Zhejiang, Chengdu, Chongqing, Jiangsu, Hubei and Shenzhen and they believe their ranks number 29,000 people who lost the equivalent of $1.2 billion. They were directed to deposit money in bank accounts in Hong Kong or China, where API representatives told them they would send the money to Switzerland, they said.

Exceeding Controls

Some of the individual investments totaled more than 1 million yuan ($161,000), according to a report by China Central Television. China’s capital controls limit the amount that can be taken out of the country to $50,000 a person per year.

After the money in their online API accounts disappeared, investors said they received a message from the company saying it had been hacked, urging patience and time for API to restore balances and compensate customers. After that, they were unable to contact company representatives, they said.

Investors in Hong Kong staged a protest outside a police station in Kowloon demanding stepped-up efforts, according to photos on a website created by API’s investors to share information, which didn’t post the date.
High Court

A lawsuit against a company called API Premiere Ltd. filed in Hong Kong’s High Court by investor Sun Zhiming said a representative of API approached him on an instant-messaging service. Sun then invested HK$147 million ($19 million) for gold and foreign-currency trading, which disappeared, the suit said. API Premiere’s director listed in the Hong Kong Companies Registry is Ong Chew Hoon of Singapore.

“People around the country are still suffering from the scam”

Visits to listed Singapore and Hong Kong residences for Ong didn’t locate him, with one address proving to be false. A mobile phone number for Ong provided by investors isn’t in service. Police spokesmen in Singapore and Hong Kong wouldn’t comment on whether Ong is the subject of an investigation.

Hong Kong police are investigating 136 complaints of suspected fraud from investors who said they invested a total of HK$415 million with API, according to a police spokeswoman who didn’t give her name due to policy.

Over the past two years, API’s representatives pitched investments in Hong Kong and China, hosted an investor event in Singapore — offering free flights and five-star accommodation – - and gave incentives for people to draw in their friends, according to the investors.
Yachts, Ferrari

API’s website cites a history in Switzerland stretching back 59 years, services including algorithmic trading and wealth management, and offices in Geneva, Zurich and Hong Kong, with Shanghai “coming soon.” Its explanation of foreign-exchange trading was taken from Wikipedia. Its promotional video shows luxury yachts on Lake Geneva, traders at computer screens and a Chinese man identifying himself as the vice president of greater China for API climbing into the passenger seat of a Ferrari so that the “boss,” whose face isn’t visible, can show him around.

Turning up unannounced in Switzerland in March, the Chinese investor group “made a desperate whistle-stop tour of the public prosecutor, the financial regulator and the Chinese embassy in search of a remedy,” said Franco Foglia, a lawyer in Geneva who was also among those who met with the investors in their search for help.

“I was convinced they are the victims of a fraud, and I can’t imagine how hard it must be to find justice for a scam they barely understand in a country whose language and culture they don’t understand,” said Foglia. “Whoever these fraudsters are, they obviously misused Switzerland’s strong reputation in Asia to lure people to invest their money.”

Deutsche Bank Head Of Asia-Pac Kills Innocent Bystander

Deutsche Bank Head Of Asia-Pac Equities Loses Control Of His $580,000 Ferrari, Kills Innocent Bystander

As recently as several months ago, the financial press was surprised when a wave of Deutsche Bank employees, particularly those in the bank’s legal department (such as here and here), decided to take their own lives. Now at least one Deutsche Banker, perhaps perturbed by the recent news involving the unexpected departure of his co-CEOs coupled with the even more unexpected raid of the bank’s global headquarters, has decided to show the jump from sui- tohomicide is a simple one.

Earlier today, Hong Kong police arrested a 48-year-old Deutsche Bank employee on “suspicion of dangerous driving and causing death.” The fatal accident happened early on Tuesday at a car park near Deutsche’s office at International Commerce Center, across the harbor from the city’s financial district.

According to Reuters, the driver was Deutsche’s head of Asia-Pacific equities trading, Robert James Ebert, 48, who was behind the wheel of a Ferrari at the time of the accident.

Below is his Linkedin profile:

Police said the arrested driver, whom it identified only as James, had said he lost control of his car. The police said a 53-year-old man, who was next to the barriers, died after suffering serious head and shoulder injuries. He was pronounced dead in the hospital early in the afternoon.

The Apple Daily newspaper also identified the driver as Ebert and said he was driving a black,HK$4.5 million ($580,502) Ferrari 458 Spider, which was in collision with a HK$2.4 million Maserati at the car park entrance before hitting a security guard.

 The police said the driver was not charged.  “We are investigating whether the car was driving beyond the speed limit of 30km/h at the time,” a police source said.

It is safe to say the answer is yes, as a simple check of the security cameras would confirm.

Ebert was released on bail in the early hours of Wednesday and has to report back in mid-July, the police said.

Ejiinsight adds that Ebert’s car went on to sweep across three barricades and hit the guard, who was pinned to a post at the carpark entrance.

Koo was rushed to the hospital but was pronounced dead by 2 p.m.

 

Ebert and the Maserati driver were unhurt. Police said both drivers passed a breathalyser test.

 

Skid marks stretching 10 meters were found at the entrance of the carpark.

 

Ebert told police his car had a brake failure. He was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving causing death.

So guy drives a car which costs more than most Americans will make in a decade (pretax), crashes in what may have been an improvised drag race, kills an innocent bystander, and promptly posts bail and is allowed to roam, and drive, in freedom.

Meanwhile Nav Sarao rots in the UK’s worst prison unable to pay his ridiculous $5 million bail, for the simple reason that he was a good trader and dared to expose the HFTs’ rigging to regulators. He faces a maximum sentence of 380 years in jail.

It’s ok though: when Stan Fischer and Mark Carney said bankers have to go to prison for “at least” 10 years when caught rigging markets they said nothing about bankers who engage in homicide. It appears the legal system will need a central bank explainer on how to proceed in that specific case.

 

Hong Kong Chief: Can’t Have Democracy Or The Poor Will Have A Say

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 10/21/2014 09:43 -0400 www.Zerohedge.com

Clearly, Leung Chung-Ying, Hong Kong’s embattled leader, did not get the Jean-Claude Juncker memo that “when things are bad, you have to lie.” As The NY Times reports, Leung – rather stunningly – said overnight that it was unacceptable to allow his successors to be chosen in open elections, in part because doing so would risk giving poorer residents a dominant voice in politics. Instead, rather unsurprisingly, he backed Beijing’s position that all candidates to succeed him as chief executive, the top post in the city, must be screened by a “broadly representative” nominating committee appointed by Beijing, and offered several thinly veiled warnings on Monday that it was risky for the protesters to try the patience of the national authorities.

As The NY Times reports,

Mr. Leung’s blunt remarks reflect a widely held view among the Hong Kong elite that the general public cannot be trusted to govern the city well. His statements appeared likely to draw fresh criticism from the democratic opposition, and to inflame the street struggle over Hong Kong’s political future.

Representatives of his government are scheduled to hold televised talks with student leaders of the protests, who have said that Mr. Leung was defending a political system stacked against ordinary citizens.

Mr. Leung said that if “you look at the meaning of the words ‘broadly representative,’ it’s not numeric representation.”

“You have to take care of all the sectors in Hong Kong as much as you can,” he said, “and if it’s entirely a numbers game and numeric representation, then obviously you would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month.”

“Then you would end up with that kind of politics and policies,” he continued.

*  *  *
Finally, we also note, Leung comments on the drivers of the pro-democracy movement…

He also raised again the suspicions of his government and of Beijing that “foreign forces” had played a role in the street protests, although he declined repeatedly to identify those forces or provide any examples.

“I didn’t overhear it in a teahouse, and it’s something that concerns us,” he said. “It’s something that we need to deal with.”

*  *  *
Mr. Leung offered several thinly veiled warnings on Monday that it was risky for the protesters to try the patience of the national authorities.

 

Hong Kong protest: Police pepper spray demonstrator in shocking video

The man is seen talking to protesters in Hong Kong.

The man is seen talking to protesters in Hong Kong. Source: Supplied

IT’S the incident that has brought Hong Kong’s protests into sharp focus.

Shocking video has emerged of police tapping an elderly protester on the shoulder and turning him around, before aiming a can of pepper spray right in his face.

The footage was posted online by Hong Kong radio station MM, which has been covering the mass protests that have paralysed the city for the last week.

MORE: Social media blocked in China

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The video shows police pushing back crowds in a violent clash, before the lone protester emerges in what seems like an effort to calm people down, while wiping his eyes.

However once he gets close enough, a member of police taps him on the shoulder. When he turns around to look he is hit with a spray right in the eye.

So far, the footage has been shared more than 11,000 times on Facebook and made headlines around the world.

The protests are now in their sixth day with demonstrators threatening to occupy government buildings unless the chief executive resigns.

Meanwhile the Chinese government faces a major dilemma over what to do and appears to be losing patience. China’s Communist Party-run People’s Daily warned of “unimaginable consequences” if the protests persis

Violence on the streets of Hong Kong following Occupy protest

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