Photo of James Phang from Sunshine Empire

The founder of now-defunct multi-level marketing (MLM) company, Sunshine Empire, James Phang Wah was arrested in Malaysia a day right after he was released from serving a 9-year jail sentence in Singapore. Singaporean James Phang Wah was arrested yesterday (Dec 20) and summoned today at the Kuala Lumpur Court to face charges for his involvement with the Malaysian branch of Sunshine Empire.

James Phang Wah will be facing a maximum fine of S$3.3 million (RM10 million) and jail sentence up to 10 years for his involvement in operating his Ponzi-scheme business in Malaysia, which cheated tens of thousands in both Singapore and Malaysia of up to S$79 million.

Sunshine Empire preyed on the greed of those who wanted to get rich quick, and most victims are students, retirees and housewives. The company featured “successful” adults in their early 20s wearing Armani-branded suits and driving luxury cars in Singapore, to pull young people into their MLM schemes who had to pay up to S$500 for a “membership”. According to police investigations, the directors falsified accounts to make the company appear profitable. The Ponzi scheme was successful because the Singapore government was negligent, which allowed the rogue company to operate for more than two years from early 2006 until Oct 2008.

Photo of James Phang at Kuala Lumpur 21 Dec 2017 from CNA


The Malaysian lawyer of James Phang Wah said that his client was shocked to be arrested in Malaysia, because he believed he has already served his sentence in Singapore:

“He felt shocked. He did not know, he was not ready in fact to be charged in Malaysia. He thought initially that the case was over in Singapore and the Malaysian government or authorities would not charge him for whatever offences he was seen to have done in Malaysia. But unfortunately turn of events, he’s charged now in Malaysia.”