Monday, January 10, 2011

Businesswoman in Ponzi scheme gets 120 years in jail, RM5mil fine

Published: Monday January 10, 2011 MYT 6:41:00 PM
Updated: Monday January 10, 2011 MYT 6:55:26 PM
Businesswoman in Ponzi scheme gets 120 years in jail, RM5mil fine
By M. MAGESWARI

KUALA LUMPUR: A businesswoman was sentenced to a total of 120 years in jail and fined RM5mil for swindling 4,000 people in an illegal investment scheme.

Raja Noor Asma Raja Harun, 49, pleaded guilty Monday to offences related to the Anti-Money Laundering Act and the Securities Commission, after 18 witnesses testified from Aug 5 last year.

She was alleged to have fleeced 4,000 investors and earned herself millions during the year she was running her wealth management business, without having either a fund manager's licence or a futures broker's licence.

Raja Noor Asma had pleaded guilty to receiving, using or having in possession of illegal proceeds obtained through a Ponzi scheme at various banks between 2007 and 2008.

(A Ponzi scheme is said to be a swindle in which quick returns on an initial investment, mostly with money from new investors, lures the victim into bigger risks.)

A Sessions Court here sentenced her to a total of 100 years in prison – two years' imprisonment for each of 50 counts of money laundering – under the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

She will, however, serve only two years after judge S.M. Komathy Suppiah ordered her jail terms to run concurrently.

Raja Noor Asma, a director of FX Capital Consultant (M) Sdn Bhd and FX Consultant, was also fined RM5mil and jailed a total of 20 years for various charges related to the Securities Commission.

She will, however, serve just five years for these offences, as Komathy also ordered the sentences related to the commission to run concurrently.

In all Raja Noor Asma will spend seven years in prison for her offences, committed from 2007 to 2008.

"Deterrence and denunciation are the two primary considerations taken into account in crafting an appropriate sentence in this case.

"The offences committed by the accused are serious and public confidence in the court would be corroded if offenders who deceive the public are given lenient sentence," said Komathy.

Raja Noor Asma admitted to committing the offences at the company's premises in Rawang between February 2007 and May 2008.

The court has set April 1 to hear claims by investors over their investments in the scheme in an attempt to recover their money.

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