KUALA LUMPUR (May 19): Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) today revealed that financial institutions have to date closed 238 accounts related to various illegal money game schemes.
BNM governor Datuk Muhammad Ibrahim said the central bank had urged financial institutions to take a stricter view when it comes to illegal schemes such as these.
"We wrote to all the chief executive officers of financial institutions, urging them to be stricter in looking at these types of activities and where necessary, close the accounts.
"Financial institutions have been quite cooperative in this aspect over the last two months. They have closed about 238 accounts so far," he said.
He explained that the money in these closed accounts can be frozen with a court order, but in the event a court order cannot be obtained, the money will be returned to the account owner.
Muhammad explained that anyone offering a 20% return on investment per month is too good to be true, pointing out that even unit trusts managed by professionals are able to only get single-digit returns.
"If you look at unit trusts, their returns are generally around 5% to 6% [per year] and these are the best portfolio managers. The very good ones could offer 6% to 7% returns, so any numbers beyond this rate cannot be true. We have to be very mindful of these scams," he added.
He said the Financial Services Act 2013 has a provision to charge these money game operators for abetment of illegal schemes, which comes with a maximum RM50 million fine and 10 years' jail.
Meanwhile, the central bank will continue its efforts in educating the public on these scams.
"The existence of these schemes [is] also encouraged by the participation of the public, driven by the sense of greed and misplaced confidence. If the public stops participating in these illegal schemes today, these schemes will eventually go away," he said.