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Scores of Chinese nationals staged a demonstration outside their embassy in Malaysia claiming they had lost their life savings to a local investment company. Photo: Irene Andy/Facebook

Chinese in Malaysia told not to protest amid ‘investment scam’ anger

  • Embassy warns its nationals that street demonstrations are illegal after scores reportedly staged a protest outside the building over losses from an online pyramid scheme
  • A local Chinese-language newspaper says a demonstrator claimed three million Chinese nationals are victims of the scam
The Chinese embassy in Malaysia has warned its citizens not to engage in street protests following reports that scores of its nationals had staged a demonstration outside the building claiming they had lost their life savings to a local investment company.
“The embassy understands that there are many Chinese nationals who are still in Malaysia because of the case, and reminded [these people], who are on a tourist visa, not to demonstrate as it is illegal,” the embassy said in one of two statements released on Wednesday.

In its second statement, it explained that on October 17 about 100 Chinese nationals had approached the embassy to complain of being “cheated” through a Malaysian online pyramid scheme, demanding that the company, MBI Group International, return their money.

The embassy said it had attempted to help by recommending Malaysia-based lawyers and holding legal consultation sessions. It urged Malaysian police to pay greater attention to the case and launch investigations as soon as possible.

In an earlier statement, the embassy said that on October 20 it had invited Chinese lawyers in Malaysia to hold a legal dialogue with “about 200 Chinese nationals who have come to Malaysia because of the MBI case”.

It also urged Chinese citizens not to participate in any “unsecured investment channels”, and reminded Chinese demonstrators that protesting in groups is illegal in Malaysia and that it hoped Chinese nationals would abide by Malaysian laws.

Earlier this month, local media reported that between 100 and 300 mainlanders from different provinces had gathered outside the embassy. The protesters demanded Malaysian authorities assist in investigations and allow them to meet the relevant parties to settle the dispute.

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A local Chinese-language newspaper said a demonstrator claimed “three million Chinese nationals” were victims of the scam, and that the protesters would make full use of their 15-day tourist visa to seek justice.

Another protester told China Press, a popular Chinese-language daily, that his “whole village has come to Malaysia in hopes of the founder showing up”.

Senior Assistant Commissioner Adlan Ahmad, the principal assistant director at the Royal Malaysia Police’s Commercial Crime Investigation Department, said his department had not received any report from the Chinese MBI protesters yet.

Scores of Chinese nationals staged a demonstration outside their embassy in Malaysia claiming they had lost their life savings to a local investment company. Photo: Irene Andy/Facebook

“However, this case has already gone to court last year and falls under the purview of the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs. If we receive any report, we will hand it over to their enforcement team,” he said.

Last year MBI founder Teddy Teow Wooi Huat, MBI International and its subsidiary Mface International were charged in court with various offences including issuing electronic payments unrecognised by Malaysia’s central bank, promoting pyramid schemes, and involvement in money laundering.

Although he initially pled not guilty, Teow later changed his plea and was fined 3 million ringgit (US$715,000), Mface 7 million ringgit, and MBI 2.5 million ringgit.

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This came a year after MBI was red-flagged by the central bank, the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs and enforcement agencies for setting up pyramid schemes under the guise of investments, some involving unlicensed virtual currency.

Under these schemes, investors could purchase MBI’s cryptocurrency with real money and a year later spend it at MBI-linked establishments, including a shopping centre called M Mall in the Malaysian state of Penang that was reportedly popular among Chinese tourists.

According to news reports, this is not Teow’s first brush with the law. In 2011 he was slapped with a 160,000 ringgit fine for misleading investors.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: China embassy warns citizens against protesting over alleged investment scam