Singaporeans, Malaysians duped millions in alleged real estate Ponzi scheme

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The Newman Estate development in Western Australia didn’t make much headway. Inset: Macro Realty Developments CEO Desiree Veronica Macpherson

More than 1,700 private investors from Malaysia and Singapore have apparently been swindled of a total of almost $90 million by a Singapore-based property company led by an Australian businesswoman.

Singapore police launched an investigation into a suspected Ponzi scheme behind Macro Realty Developments Pte Ltd, Australia’s ABC News reported.

Macro Realty Developments, controlled by Australian businesswoman Desiree Veronica Macpherson, said it is collecting funds from investors for housing developments in Pilbara, Western Australia, and promised an annual return of a whopping 18 per cent.

However, Pilbara is a large, dry and thinly populated region in the north of Western Australia with mining being the main industry. Many of its around 46,000 inhabitants are Aboriginal people. The region is littered with ghost towns after Australia’s mining boom went bust a few years ago, which is why the future property boom predicted by the company’s promotions seems hardly supported.

According to findings by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, which began to scrutinise the firm after receiving an investor alert of not having been paid the promised returns, the funds seemed to have been instead used to pay for company expenses, including the interest payments to early investors.

The investment scheme was reported to have been heavily promoted in Singapore and Malaysia since 2014. Promotional material told investors the business had other sources of revenue when it did not and that guarantors owned land assets when they did not. It also featured a Western Australian Parliament politician, which incorrectly suggesting that the scheme was approved by the region’s government.

However, only little development took actually place with the collected funds. After the firm failed to attract more investors in 2016, the scheme inevitably collapsed.

There were 651 investors from Malaysia, 981 from Singapore, 31 from Australia, 58 from the U.K. and 17 from continental Europe. A large number of them lost their life savings.

Australian authorities are investigating Macpherson over potential offenses of stealing, fraud and forgery. Her financial services license and passport were cancelled last year, and her active Australian companies are being wound up. Overall, Macro Realty Developments owes almost $129 million to investors and other creditors.

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[caption id="attachment_30237" align="alignleft" width="300"] The Newman Estate development in Western Australia didn't make much headway. Inset: Macro Realty Developments CEO Desiree Veronica Macpherson[/caption] More than 1,700 private investors from Malaysia and Singapore have apparently been swindled of a total of almost $90 million by a Singapore-based property company led by an Australian businesswoman. Singapore police launched an investigation into a suspected Ponzi scheme behind Macro Realty Developments Pte Ltd, Australia's ABC News reported. Macro Realty Developments, controlled by Australian businesswoman Desiree Veronica Macpherson, said it is collecting funds from investors for housing developments in Pilbara, Western Australia, and promised an...

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Newman Estate development in Western Australia didn’t make much headway. Inset: Macro Realty Developments CEO Desiree Veronica Macpherson

More than 1,700 private investors from Malaysia and Singapore have apparently been swindled of a total of almost $90 million by a Singapore-based property company led by an Australian businesswoman.

Singapore police launched an investigation into a suspected Ponzi scheme behind Macro Realty Developments Pte Ltd, Australia’s ABC News reported.

Macro Realty Developments, controlled by Australian businesswoman Desiree Veronica Macpherson, said it is collecting funds from investors for housing developments in Pilbara, Western Australia, and promised an annual return of a whopping 18 per cent.

However, Pilbara is a large, dry and thinly populated region in the north of Western Australia with mining being the main industry. Many of its around 46,000 inhabitants are Aboriginal people. The region is littered with ghost towns after Australia’s mining boom went bust a few years ago, which is why the future property boom predicted by the company’s promotions seems hardly supported.

According to findings by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, which began to scrutinise the firm after receiving an investor alert of not having been paid the promised returns, the funds seemed to have been instead used to pay for company expenses, including the interest payments to early investors.

The investment scheme was reported to have been heavily promoted in Singapore and Malaysia since 2014. Promotional material told investors the business had other sources of revenue when it did not and that guarantors owned land assets when they did not. It also featured a Western Australian Parliament politician, which incorrectly suggesting that the scheme was approved by the region’s government.

However, only little development took actually place with the collected funds. After the firm failed to attract more investors in 2016, the scheme inevitably collapsed.

There were 651 investors from Malaysia, 981 from Singapore, 31 from Australia, 58 from the U.K. and 17 from continental Europe. A large number of them lost their life savings.

Australian authorities are investigating Macpherson over potential offenses of stealing, fraud and forgery. Her financial services license and passport were cancelled last year, and her active Australian companies are being wound up. Overall, Macro Realty Developments owes almost $129 million to investors and other creditors.

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