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Wednesday October 4, 2006

Two Datuks held over Internet scam


KUALA LUMPUR: Two Datuks and six others have been placed under remand to help investigations into a get-rich-quick scheme that allegedly promised “huge returns for a minimum investment.” 

The Datuks, aged 47 and 57, were produced before a magistrate’s here yesterday together with the others, aged 26 to 58, after their arrest on Monday. 

Magistrate Azniza Mohd Ali ordered them to be remanded for five days, until Oct 7. 

The police are investigating the case under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating. 

The alleged scam, known as SwissCash or Swiss Mutual Fund (1948), was uncovered early last month and reported in a Malay tabloid. 

Over 50,000 people have purportedly signed up for the scheme since its introduction in April last year. 

The Swiss Embassy here has denied that its government had approved the scheme and also rebuffed claims that it was based in Switzerland. 

SwissCash, which operates through the Internet, claims to be an “easy, fast and secure scheme.”  

It claimed investors’ funds were channelled to business activities ranging from oil exploration to shipping and agriculture in the Caribbean. 

Investors are required to pay a registration fee of US$30 (RM110) to join the scheme, which allegedly offers huge returns for a minimum investment of US$100 (RM370). 

Those behind the scheme also claimed that investments of US$1,000 (RM3,700) or more could earn a profit of up to 300% after 15 months. 

However, after the report appeared in the tabloid, the Securities Commission and Bank Negara released statements saying SwissCash had no licence to collect funds. 

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi also issued a statement calling on those duped by the scam to quickly lodge reports.  

Among the scheme’s purported victims are a lawyer, a consultant, a technician and the secretary-general of a government ministry. They claimed they had been cheated of nearly RM20mil.  

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