Sunshine Empire trio convicted: Can't they be caned as well???

Alright! This ought to be the (bad, but expected) sequel to "Sunshine Empire: The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine anymore...on this Empire".

The Sunshine Empire trio have gone to the dark side (Yes, I do hope the punishment is a long free stay in a prison, but only on 30 July will we know what exactly the outcome is. No, I don't think it will involve any caning. Pity!).

THE flamboyant founder of Sunshine Empire, which amassed $180 million in 15 months, was found guilty by a district court on Friday for running a fraudulent scheme and for faking accounts.

James Phang Wah, 50, and former director Jackie Hoo Choon Cheat, 30, had enriched themselves by at least $8 million through Sunshine's multi-level marketing scheme.

Phang's wife Neo Kuon Huay, 47, was found guilty of falsifying payment vouchers together with Phang. They did this so that she could receive commissions amounting to nearly $1 million.

The trio will be sentenced on July 30.

Some 20,000 people bought into the flashy scheme, which promised high returns on its lifestyle packages.

Sunshine sold these packages at its plush Toa Payoh Central office for over 15 months, before it was raided by officers from the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) in November 2007.

From Straits Times, "Sunshine Empire trio convicted".

The head of defunct multi-level marketing firm Sunshine Empire, Phang Wah, was found guilty on Friday of several offences, including running a fraudulent trading company and falsifying accounts.

His wife, Neo Kuon Huay, and ex-company director Jackie Hoo Choon Cheat were similarly convicted.

The trio were involved in what is believed to be the biggest Ponzi-like scheme in Singapore. They had managed to raise more than $180 million from investors within 15 months.

The three defendants appeared expressionless as they stood in the dock with the men sharply dressed in business suits.

The packed courtroom listened intently as District Judge Jasvender Kaur read out her judgment.

She found Phang, 49, and Hoo, 29, each guilty of eight charges related to criminal breach of trust involving nearly a million dollars.

The judge also found Phang and his 46-year-old spouse, Neo, each guilty of six counts of falsifying accounts involving nearly $600,000.

During the trial, the prosecution's expert witness, international forensic accountant Luke Steadman, had said that the company had a business model that was bound to fail.

Tens of thousands of investors paid the company up to $12,000 each for the different packages it offered.

They were then promised high returns in the form of rebates from the sale of lifestyle products.

However, the rebates cost more than the products themselves.

The company was not retaining any revenue by October 2007, said Mr Steadman, as it was paying what was referred to as Consumer Rebates Privileges at a level that was unsustainable.

On Friday, Judge Kaur said she accepted Mr Steadman's analysis.

She noted that the abnormally high returns were meant to dazzle and attract participants who had no in-depth knowledge of the scheme.

The judge added that it would have been self-evident that the scheme was destined to collapse and participants who bought the packages would suffer a loss.

The trio will be sentenced on July 30.

For running a fraudulent business, Phang and Hoo could be sentenced up to seven years' jail and fined a maximum of $15,000.

And for criminal breach of trust, the men could either face life imprisonment or jailed up to 10 years and fined.

For falsifying accounts, Phang and Neo could be sentenced up to seven years' jail and fined.

From Today, "Sunshine Empire trio convicted".



Update on 30/07: sadly, there's no caning involved for the trio fraudsters...

THE flamboyant founder of Sunshine Empire, who amassed $180 million in 15 months, and his former director were jailed by a court on Friday for running a fraudulent scheme and for faking accounts.

James Phang Wah, 50, and former director Jackie Hoo Choon Cheat, 30, had enriched themselves by at least $8 million through Sunshine's multi-level marketing scheme.

Phang was sentenced to nine years jail and fined $60,000 while Hoo was jailed for seven years.

Phang's wife Neo Kuon Huay, 47, who was found guilty of falsifying payment vouchers together with Phang, was fined $60,000. They did this so that she could receive commissions amounting to nearly $1 million.

Some 20,000 people bought into the flashy scheme, which promised high returns on its lifestyle packages.

Sunshine sold these packages at its plush Toa Payoh Central office for over 15 months, before it was raided by officers from the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) in November 2007. The packages ranged from $240 to $12,000 and offered attractive bonuses and incentives.

What was unique was its customer rebate points (CRP) system, which allowed participants to use the points to buy goods online. Phang and Hoo had assured participants that CRP was derived from the firm's turnover on its e-commerce platform.

Like other Ponzi-like schemes, rewards for participants came from fresh money secured from those joining later.

From Straits Times, "Sunshine Empire pair jailed".

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