After an eight-year wait for returns that never materialised from an agarwood investment project in northern Thailand, investors are demanding that the company responsible pays back the money they put in.
But while they insist that the company returns their money, they no longer expect to turn a profit, saying their contracts have been breached with no sign that the project will succeed.
MalaysiaNow previously reported that 180 individuals had suffered losses of RM22.6 million due to the failed agarwood investment in Thailand.
The project had been handled by an international company, Asia Plantation Capital (APC).
The investors, represented by a group of lawyers, had applied to the Kuala Lumpur Criminal Magistrates Court for an order for the police to investigate the case which had been classified as no further action or NFA.
Other investors not included in the group later came forth to share their experiences with MalaysiaNow.
In their interviews, they confirmed the report on the investment scheme run by APC.
They said they were invited to join the scheme as early as 2011, when the company held an expo at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur to introduce the project.
They said they made their first transaction at the expo itself. Payments were made per plot, with each plot containing 100 trees.
Some of them were also brought to Sakon Nakhon in northern Thailand to see for themselves the plots of land. They were then offered a chance to sink their money into more plots at a promotional price.
All in, the investors made a series of transactions apart from their initial payments at the expo in the hope of raking in as much profit as possible.
“In 2011, they promised they would inform us of developments through annual reports, and that returns would be given within seven years,” one of them told MalaysiaNow.
“But as we approached the date of maturity for the plants, I was invited along with several other investors to attend a session with APC where they told us that our trees had all died.”
They were then told that the company would be unable to pay up the money as promised.
Another investor, Dr P Mahendran, said no amount of explaining could be accepted as the company had given its guarantee in black and white.
“Every investment has its risks, but this company promised that no matter what, they would pay us,” Mahendran, a dentist in Kuala Lumpur, told MalaysiaNow.
“Suddenly they told us that our plants hadn’t made it due to weather conditions, even though the contract stated that such a situation would not jeopardise our payments.”
Mahendran said he was upset as he had used savings meant for his children’s education as investment capital, hoping to make a profit from the project that could be used for their future.
Another investor who called himself Guru said he had put in RM520,000 in three transactions between 2013 and 2014, using money he had initially meant to leave to his wife.
But like Mahendran, he received nothing in return. The last time he had contact with APC was early last year.
“APC only told me that my plants had died. They told me not to worry as they would plant everything again from scratch.
“But I’m already 73 years old – how can I want another seven years for the trees to mature?”
Guru made a police report in January after failing to receive a response from APC.
“It’s all right if I don’t get the returns they promised,” he said. “What is important is that the company returns the money I put in.”
MalaysiaNow’s attempts to reach APC for comment have so far failed.