Failed China financial products drew investors for their 'low' returns

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 September, 2015, 12:02am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 September, 2015, 12:07am

If you can't even trust an investment that returns "only" 13 per cent, what can you trust?

The low returns on the financial products offered by Fanya Metals Exchange ironically attracted investors as, unlike typical scams, Fanya was not promising the moon.

"For years, I have invested in trust loans, where it's easy to get more than 15 per cent. Never thought something that yields less could be dangerous," said Vivian Jiang, who works at the Shanghai Jiaotong University.

Jiang invested more than 800,000 yuan in ri jin bao, an investment product issued by Fanya Metals Exchange that promised to return 13.7 per cent with principal and redemption assured, but has frozen redemptions since July.

"I had kept that investment for my son's education in the UK and it is gone now. What do I do now? Why aren't police on them yet? This is fraud," she said between sobs.

Investors are venting their ire at Fanya's political patrons in the provincial and central governments though many of them had put their money into the exchange because of its political connections.

Fanya's advertisements called itself a "government platform", complete with photos of senior executives with local and national government officials. Big state-owned companies listed as partners on its website and organisations like China Central Television listed as media partners helped Fanya's salespeople to convince investors of the exchange's state backing.

Convinced of Fanya's "strong background", 51-year-old Jiangsu businessman Wang Yu put the 80,000 yuan he had made from the stock market this year into ri jin bao.

"I will go to Beijing and attend every protest meet until I get my money back. The government should not underwrite these companies," he said.

"We were all rushing to buy ri jin bao last year. It was so popular that if you invested 10,000 yuan, you could probably subscribe to 5,000 yuan of the product. Such was the demand," said Zhou Sisi, a housewife in Shanghai. "I don't know how I'll tell my husband. The money I put into Fanya was to be used as down payment for a home near my son's school."

She invested more than 200,000 yuan this January, bringing her total investment in Fanya to 470,000 yuan, before being told in July that she could not withdraw any money from the account.

Zhou does not even have a contract of her investments. She said she signed "something" online and that she thought she held some rare metal warrants as collateral.

She has no idea what indium or bismuth is, neither did she ever find out what they are worth.