The Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) received 9 complaints against two investment firms but ended up paying lips services saying they “counselled” the complainants because the association “does not handle investment cases”.
About 70 investors, including both Singaporeans and foreigners, invested in a premium tree growing investment with a Singapore-based investment firm Tropical Forestry Venture (TFV) in 2013. A 53-year-old TFV investor said he put in S$48,250 in investments receiving certificates of ownership of 150 tree saplings and 25 semi-mature trees, with another 15 trees as “bonus”.
About more than a year later in 2014, the firm shut down its office in Sago Street and it was assumed that it’s investors whom they gathered via telemarketing have lost all of their investments with the firm. These TFV investors were then approached by another firm with a similar-sounding name Tropical Forestry Assets Management (TFAM), who claimed they are not related to TFV.
TFAM then approached the TFV investors for new investments but these investors approached claimed that TFAM told them the new firm has taken over the marketing responsibilities of the defunct-TFV in May 2015.
Another TFV investor, a 33-year-old investor, said that TFAM told her they will be taking over the TFV customer base and they needed S$7,950 to “upgrade” her existing investments of 25 trees. However, TFAM took the sale as a new investment instead of an “upgrade” they told her.
In Sep 2014, TFV threatened to sue a blogger for defamation over a blogpost, see blog here [Link], but it turned out to be an empty threat. According to internet sources, TFV dangled free NTUC vouchers to lure investors to attend their seminars.
The Singapore Consumer Association washed its hands off the complaints citing investment disputes as not within their jurisdiction, and also did not direct the complainants to the right channel. This approach is in contrast to the municipal service approach adopted by the Singapore government who promised Singaporeans that government agencies will not “pass the ball” to other agencies over the same complaint.
During the Global Financial Crisis in 2009, Singapore bank DBS made compensation to Hongkong investors of the Lehman Brothers bonds but did not make similar compensation to Singapore investors because of the lack of investors-protection laws in Singapore.