Performance Investments Products Corp. (PIPC) scam

James Ryan Jonas

FrancSwiss out, PIPC in.

Just as the FrancSwiss scam issue is showing signs of fizzling out, a new scandal has rocked the financial sector involving a Singaporean and hundreds of wealthy Filipino investors.

Last week, an investor of the foreign exchange trading firm Performance Investments Products Corporation (PIPC) filed a complaint with the NBI claiming that the owner of the company, Singaporean Michael H.K. Liew, has fled the country and disappeared, supposedly taking with him between US$140 million and US$250 million of investors’ funds.

Meet other investors and discuss PIPC in the Performance Investments Products Corporation (PIPC) thread. Discuss the PIPC-related company, PFEC, in the Performance Foreign Exchange Corporation (PFEC) thread in the PMT Forum.The following are excerpts from the Singapore Straits Times article on PIPC.

PIPC is part of the Performance Group of companies, whose website lists a Singapore subsidiary, Performance Asset Management, and branches in Japan, South Korea, China and Switzerland. The company, according to reports, is owned by Mr Liew.

The head of the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was quoted as saying that although PIPC was registered with regulators, it was not an authorised foreign-exchange trading firm.

SEC chairman Fe Barin said the commission has been ‘quietly investigating’ PIPC after complaints from investors.

Mr Liew set up the Philippine company as an online forex trading service in 1998. He has not been publicly associated with any previous alleged financial irregularities.

But a good deed got him mentioned.

Mr Liew was the principal donor to the renovation of part of the obstetrics and gynaecology wing of the Philippine General Hospital in Manila. He led the ribbon-cutting at the inauguration last August and was presented with a plaque for his philanthropy.

The hospital’s website said Mr Liew dedicated the project to the memory of members of his family who perished in Phuket, Thailand, in the December 2004 tsunami.

PIPC’s offices are located at Citibank Towers in the capital’s financial district of Makati, which is a top business address here.

Here is a timeline of events starting from Mr. Liew’s disappearance to the recent investigation, taken from the site put up by employees of PIPC.

July 24, 2007. Ferrier Hodgson Limited has been officially engaged to help in the investigation. The company specializes in Forensic Accounting, Financial Investigations and Fraud services.

July 19, 2007. Formal complaint filed by Cristina Gonzalez-Tuason against Mr. Michael Liew.

July 17 2007. Demand Draft received by Tokyo Head Office, the amount a mere fraction of what was implied by the Relationship Manager.

July 13 2007. ABN Amro confirmed that FX accounts had been closed with a Demand Draft sent to a beneficiary address in Japan.

July 10 2007. Communicated with Albert Chua regarding Mr. Liew’s whereabouts.

July 09 2007. Emails to Michael Liew bounced. Phone calls went unanswered and merely redirected to voice mail.

July 07 2007. Last email received from Mr. Liew.

July 05 2007. Last telephone conversation with Mr. Liew.

June 20 2007. Michael Liew’s last known departure from Manila.

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James Ryan Jonas teaches business management, investments, and entrepreneurship at the University of the Philippines (UP). He is also the Executive Director of UP Provident Fund Inc., managing and investing P3.2 Billion ($56.4 Million) worth of retirement funds on behalf of thousands of UP employees.