Singapore’s financial regulator is conducting a review of Envysion Wealth Management’s governance and risk management, after the company lost millions of dollars to an alleged fraudulent nickel trading scheme.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) probe follows fraud charges filed against Ng Yu Zhi, a director of Envy Asset Management and Envy Global Trading.
Ng is accused of engaging in an investment fraud scheme running since October 2017, which involved the “purported trading of nickel”, the regulator says.
The city state’s police force say investors were duped into funding the purchase of goods and trade receivables when in reality “there were no such forward contracts”.
Ng’s companies raised around US$750mn in total, police add, with investors promised returns of around 15%. Prosecutors accuse Ng of siphoning off hundreds of millions of dollars into his personal account, however, and a large proportion of investor funds remains unaccounted for.
Envysion – a fund manager set up in 2019, which is coincidentally registered to the same Singapore office address as Envy Asset Management and Envy Global – lost at least US$35.6mn to the scheme, according to the MAS statement.
The regulator says it will carry out a supervisory review of Envysion in order to “ascertain if there have been governance or risk management failures by its board and senior management”.
“MAS expects licensed fund managers to practise robust governance to safeguard the interest of their investors,” it adds. “This includes performing proper due diligence before undertaking investments and addressing concentration and other risks to investors.”
Despite the similarity in names and common address office, an Envysion spokesperson confirmed to GTR in February that it is “a wholly separate company, with separate interests”.
GTR understands that view is also shared by city state authorities, and Envysion is not accused of any wrongdoing.
When contacted this week, the Envysion spokesperson said the company “has been cooperating closely with the authorities to provide evidence, along with the other investors involved”.
“To be clear, only investors from one of our many funds are being affected, and the requisite due diligence was conducted before we launched the aforementioned fund,” they add.
“As our priority is to our investors, it is of critical importance to us to recover the sum invested in [Envy Global Trading]. We are working our hardest to recover it for our clients.”
The investigation follows a January announcement that Envysion had partnered with global trading giant Mercuria to fund investments in energy and mining projects.
The agreement was touted as a response to many banks’ dwindling appetite for providing commodity finance.
“There used to be abundant funding for commodity traders but not anymore since major defaults like Hin Leong and ZenRock,” said Mercuria’s business development manager, George Liu, at the time.
“On the other hand, private funds are sitting there looking for higher returns but they lack financing channels.”
The partnership had been due to launch in March, but as of press time there has been no further public announcement on whether activities have commenced.
Mercuria did not respond when asked for details of the March launch, nor when asked to confirm or deny whether the partnership is still going ahead.
Representatives for Envysion declined to answer when asked the same questions, though an external public relations agency said the company has been “hard to pin down of late”.
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