The Profitable Group vs 'rioting mob' cum investors

Reading about the article featuring angry investors vs the investment company called, "Profitable Group" somehow reminds me of this show which has a group of Israeli immigrants in the US selling electronic stuff in their store which called, "Going Out of Business".

In the movie, the store is always selling merchandise with the big banners "Going Out of Business". But it never is. It's thriving.

Likewise when a company is called "Profitable Group", I really have to cast a lot of doubt. Oh sure, profitable alright. Many companies are profitable. But they don't name their company "Profitable Group". What if one year you're not profitable? Will you change the company name to be "Used to be Profitable Group" or "Previously Profitable Group" or...whatever!

THEY came to demand answers and they were in no mood to take no for an answer.

So they marched up to two Caucasian men who were having a smoke and surrounded them.

The group of 11 men and one woman wanted to talk to one of the Caucasian men regarding their investments.

They identified him as Mr John Nordmann, group operations director of Profitable Group, a global investment firm, which, according to its website, has interests ranging from lubricants to property.

They claimed that the firm had not made good on its promises to them.

But the conversation outside Profitable Group's Stanley Street office in Shenton Way soon spiralled out of control into a shouting match. There was even some pushing.

Mr Nordmann told the group: "Calm down.Why don't you e-mail me your individual cases?"

His suggestion was not only instantly rejected, but it also upset some of the investors.

Said one of them, who gave his name only as Chris: "We have been e-mailing you for the last one year. Stop treating us as though we do not exist."

The shouting outside the office around 3pm attracted the attention of people at a coffee shop nearby. They got up from their seats and turned their heads towards the commotion.

This was when Mr Nordmann invited the group to go up to the firm's office to discuss the matter.

One of those in the group, a 37-year-old who gave his name only as Mr Rajan, was overheard saying to a fellow investor: "We're actually very lucky to see the director outside the office. We were always referred to his subordinates every time we came here."

The day's confrontation had its beginnings with the group's investments with Profitable Group between 2006and 2009.

They said the terms of their investments, which they claimed promised them a certain return after six months, had not been honoured.

The 12 people claimed that their individual investments in land and lubricants with Profitable Group totalled about $700,000.

And none of them had received any returns, they claimed. They had met on an online forum where they shared their experiences.

Chris claimed he had "pumped in" the most money.

"I have invested more than $180,000... Enough is enough, I'm willing to forfeit my returns so long as the company pay me back the money I have put in," he said.

After Mr Nordmann's invitation to the group, another commotion broke out. An investor later told The New Paper that they were upset because he wanted to go up first whereas they wanted to group with him.

During the tense exchange, Mr Nordmann managed to take the lift to his office.

Blocked at the stairway

Some investors tried to follow him by taking the stairs, but the other Caucasian blocked their way.

All the stocky man had to do was stand at the bottom of the stairs and his wide frame made it impossible for the investors to pass.

This led to more shouting and shoving.

The bald-headed Caucasian soon lost his cool and started shouting back at one of the investors called Jim.

Jim and Chris, who were at the head of the group, were pushed back. Every time the man tried to grab their arms, they would brush off his attempts.

Someone in the crowd then shouted: "Call the police... We have witnesses here." While this was going on, other investors managed to enter the lift which had returned to the ground floor. But the Caucasian dashed from the stairs, pushing aside those who were in his way, and stood against the lift door to prevent it from closing.

The group at the stairs took this opportunity to go up to the office on the third storey.

They were soon joined by those in the lift who also decided to take the stairs.

From below, this reporter could hear more shouting.

The group, except for one investor, then went to the boardroom to discuss the matter with Mr Nordmann.

The lone investor who decided to sit out the meeting was overheard shouting: "I am tired of going in and out of the boardroom.

It's always the same story. I want answers."

Mr Nordmann was heard shouting back: "Well, I don't know who you are. How do I know that you're really an investor? I want your particulars."

Investors who were in the boardroom confirmed that this took place.

Police arrived

About an hour later, the police arrived. A police spokesman said they had received a call for assistance around 4pm regarding a dispute at an investment company on Stanley Street.

Both parties were advised on the legal recourse available and were told to keep the peace, the spokesman said.

When contacted later, Mr Rajan, an engineer who claimed to have invested about $20,000, said the director wanted to look at the cases individually.

"He had promised to tell us what is going to happen to our investments by Thursday (May27)," he said. "There maybe hope."

Profitable Group declined to comment when approached by this reporter.

About Profitable Group

PROFITABLE Group is a global investment firm with various portfolios.

These include properties, lubrication technology, eco-housing and security.

The company acknowledges that virtually every business has been affected by the global economic downturn.

Its website says: "While our clients may have experienced delays on some projects due to a general slowdown, The Group is still able to state that not one client has ever lost money, which we believe is remarkable particularly over the last 12 months."

But the group is on the Monetary Authority of Singapore's Investor Alert List.

The firm has sponsored broadcasts of Formula 1 racing.

When Singapore played Liverpool in a friendly football match at the National Stadium last year, the group, which was the promoter of the club's Asian Tour, allowed the anthem, You will Never Walk Alone, to be played before the match.

This was against the agreement that no anthem should be played, said a spokesman

From Asiaone, "Shouting, then shoving".

The Profitable Group has blasted a group of investors who turned up at its office in Shenton Way on Monday, describing their behaviour as "thuggish" and "criminal".

In that incident, it was reported that a dozen people had demanded payments apparently owed to them - and the police had to be called in to defuse the situation.

In a letter to the investors on Thursday, which was also forwarded to MediaCorp, Mr John Nordmann, group operations director of the Singapore-based investment firm, said he was "hugely disappointed that Singaporeans would act in such a manner".

He added that he would "not hesitate to call the police authorities and press whatever charges they deem appropriate" if there is to be a repeat incident.

Referring to a document he was given on Monday, in which he said the group described themselves as members of an "investment recovery task force", Mr Nordmann said: "It's easy for one to interpret this as some sort of militant vigilante group."

The group of investors had been told they would get a reply by Thursday about their investments and held out some hope for their investments with the firm, which is currently on the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)'s Investor Alert List.

The list comprises persons "possibly conducting activities regulated by MAS without authorisation".

Indeed, the reply did come, but along with the strong words from Mr Nordmann, was a refutation of the investors' claims.

Mr Nordmann highlighted that the payouts for their land investments depended on certain events, such as planning permission being granted for the land.

"That event has not taken place," said Mr Nordmann, who did not say what the chances were of it happening.

But the United Kingdom's Daily Telegraph newspaper reported two months ago that one of the sites the company had bought in Britain was "a green belt" land, where housing development has been banned.

The investors are still entitled to a 12.5-per-cent annual payment on their capital but Mr Nordmann said the group have "refused to accept" the payments.

He said the outstanding amount from his company was £8,125 ($16,600) and not the $700,000 the group had claimed.

He admitted, though, there were "delays in payments" for investments in a fuel product called Boron.

The Profitable Group is trying to make arrangements for this, and Mr Nordmann said investors should come on an individual basis, not a "rioting mob".

From TODAY, "Profitable Group slams irate investors".


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