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On March 6, 2013, more than 180 people at Hong Lim Park signed a petition to be submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office.
They were investors in a gold trading company called The Gold Guarantee (TGG), the founder and CEO of which, Lee Song Teck, had gone missing.
And so has the money they entrusted him with, some up to $1 million.
The petition called for the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) to speed up its investigations.
Almost 10 years later, Lee, now 44, was charged in court with ten counts of cheating on Friday (Feb 17), said police.
The charges arose from investigations by CAD into a gold investment buyback scheme offered by TGG between 2011 and 2013.
As part of the investigations, CAD also investigated five other companies which were connected to Lee, who was the sole director and shareholder of TGG and these five companies.
One of the companies investigated was The Discovery Group, which offered timeshare membership investments that were purportedly backed by warrants issued by TGG.
Lee had allegedly cheated 10 investors of Discovery into believing that their investments were guaranteed by warrants issued by TGG, resulting in the 10 investors disbursing $157,000 to Discovery, which the investors would not have done had they not been so deceived.
Lee left Singapore on Jan 18, 2013, and was arrested on Feb 2, 2023, when he returned.
For each count of the offence of cheating, persons convicted face imprisonment of up to 10 years and a fine.
Investigations are ongoing.
The son of pig farmers, Lee took over his family’s animal pharmaceutical business when he was 20.
"I am an only child, and I lived on a pig farm until I was eight," he told The Straits Times in 2012.
"Our farm seemed huge, but we were one of the few poor pig farmers at the time. My father set up the animal pharmaceutical wholesale business while running the farm, and my mother helped him with the accounts.
"However, we were quite poor until about 10 years ago because my father, who died when I was 17, was a gambler. My parents used to tell me I must never gamble."
At age 22, he went to Sydney for undergraduate studies. After his return to Singapore, he tried his hand at being a property agent, and running a fitness centre and a property investment seminar business. He also invested in property and gold.
"I believe in only real estate and gold, which I can see and touch, and which have real value. My gold investment portfolio is now worth $30 million," Lee said in the ST interview.
"I have achieved average returns of 200 per cent a year from my property investments and some of my businesses. I plan to achieve a net worth of $200 million. When that happens, I intend to pledge 90 per cent to charity."
He added: "I do not smoke, drink or gamble, and I am not into fine dining. The only luxury items I spend on are spa packages for me and my friends. I also buy presents for my friends. It feels nice to be able to buy things for the people I love."
Lee said his greatest extravagance was his new $1 million Bentley Supersports, which was his "dream car". He also drove a white BMW 5 series model.
His company The Gold Guarantee was incorporated in 2011.