|Mia Ren |||Jan 31, 2016 10:41 AM EST|
(Photo : Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images) About 32 suspects have been charged with fraud over a scam that involved selling gold bars to investors.
Seven Singaporeans and 25 Taiwanese have been charged with violating Taiwan's Banking Act for running a gold-buying scam worth billions.
Chia Ser Leong, 56, was the business director, local media reported.
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Prosecutors at the Taoyuan district said that Chia established Tianjin Group Holdings in 2013, an investment company that sold gold bars as products of Swiss PAMP, a gold refinery based in Switzerland.
The group's general manager, 42-year-old Xie Jiaya, and the deputy general manager Jiang Ziwen were also charged.
Investors were promised 24 percent profit and 1 percent interest every month for two years if they join. After two years, the company promised to buy the gold back at the original price. But before anyone could buy the gold bars, they had to first pay NT$80,800 ($2,400) for membership.
The gold bars, which only cost NT$1.23 million ($37,000) per kilogram, was being sold at NT$2.6 million ($78,000) per kilogram. The group managed to lure 5,000 members, 200 of whom are Taiwanese - all of them reportedly paid the membership fee.
Members get a commission of two percent to 16 percent for every person they recruit.
Tawanese Zeng Shaoli was reportedly the group's "Gold Fortune Goddess" as she persuades prospects using her sexual appeal and physical beauty. Members also attract investors by displaying their wealth, taking them to cruises and renting luxury cars.
The group collected a total of NT$1.9 billion ($58 million) since 2013, but NT$1.6 billion ($47 million) have been transferred to Singapore.
The Tianjin Group has expanded their business and opened offices in other areas of Taiwan. The company officials have maintained that their business is legal.
However, 195 people reported to the police that they invested tens to hundreds of thousands in the scam.
Police learned that not all the gold bars they sell were genuine and they also had fake photocopied certificates.
A yacht, a Porsche, hundreds of gold bars, diamond rings, branded bags, and more than NT$2 million ($59,000) were seized by the police.
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