ANTI-FRAUD officials from Britain and the United States are trying to track US$8 million allegedly defrauded last year from American, Australian, Canadian and Hong Kong investors, many of whom had been invited on cruises in the Caribbean. The US Securities and Exchange Commission and Federal Bureau of Investigation are helping police from the northern English county of Cheshire. Last week, the Cheshire Constabulary confirmed that investment activities of Marshall Ronald, a solicitor, were being investigated after allegations that he was associated with a company called Sabre Asset Management, in which hundreds of depositors had invested money. 'Our fraud squad is involved in an investigation into the activities of Sabre Asset Management,' a Cheshire Constabulary police official said. 'We are aware that the FBI and the SEC of the US are involved,' she added. Even Britain's Serious Fraud Office is thought to have become involved in the Sabre investments investigation. More than 170 investors are thought to have been sucked into a fraudulent investment scheme that promised sky-high, short-term returns. Retirees are said to have been particularly targeted, and many of the complaints received have come from people lured into the investment scheme during attractive presentations aboard luxury cruise ships in the Caribbean. Investors reportedly were promised a 100 per cent return within a minimum of 90 days. Under the scheme, they were to receive 10 per cent interest on the amount invested and 90 per cent of any profits earned on it. Mr Ronald and another business associate are alleged to have asked investors to put a minimum of US$25,000 into a 'bank trading programme'. These funds were to be used for trading in currencies and letters of credit, with any profits to be paid into a charity for underprivileged children, according to reports. Officials from the Cheshire Constabulary said their investigation was continuing and that a large number of complaints had been received. The multi-agency investigation comes as Britain and Hong Kong strengthened regulatory co-operation, by signing an agreement to further promote and protect investments. Building on an existing agreement between Hong Kong's chief financial regulator, the Securities and Futures Commission, and Britain's Investment Management Regulatory Organisation, the British Government and Hong Kong authorities last week announced fresh guidelines for better governance of investment schemes. In the first such agreement that Hong Kong has signed since the resumption of Chinese sovereignty, British and Hong Kong authorities will ensure equal treatment for investors, compensation if investor assets are expropriated, and free transfer of investments and returns. The agreement, which also promotes settlement of investment disputes according to international guidelines, will initially last for 15 years but will remain in force indefinitely unless either side terminates it.