Singapore-registered firm accused of swindling $1.2b from 26,000 people in Japan’s largest scam

TOKYO/SINGAPORE – A Singapore-registered company that promised its members the high life has come under scrutiny in Japan, where four of its top executives are under arrest on suspicion of swindling 135 billion yen (S$1.2 billion) from 26,000 people.

Sky Premium International is alleged to have masterminded what is Japan’s largest scam in violation of the Financial Instruments and Exchange Act, according to Fukuoka Prefectural Police.

It is said to have acted as an investment advisory firm to peddle a financial product that it called “Lion Premium”, without the authorisation of Japan’s Financial Services Agency.

On Feb 22, Fukuoka Prefectural Police arrested four executives including Atsushi Saito, 45, who is identified in Japanese media reports as the company’s chief executive officer, and Shinobu Mizushima, 59, who is said to be the chief sales officer.

The arrests came after police reports were lodged in six prefectures, including Fukuoka, by investors who could not get back their investments. A series of civil lawsuits against Sky Premium are also pending before the courts, including in Hokkaido, Tokyo, and Osaka.

Under Japanese law, suspects can be detained for up to 23 days without indictment. The detention period, however, may be prolonged as they may be “re-arrested” on a different charge.

Sky Premium’s current registered address on the 27th floor of SBF Center in Shenton Way, in the heart of Singapore’s Central Business District, appeared unoccupied when The Straits Times visited on Feb 27.

The front door was locked and the lights were turned off. From the outside, the office appeared spartan, with a white sign that read “Sky Premium”. There was no doorbell.

Three office workers on the same floor told ST that they had never seen the office being used. One of them had seen people going in and out of the unit only when the company first moved in.

Business records from the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority show that Sky Premium International was incorporated in February 2013, and moved to the SBF Center in June 2022. Its director is listed as Mr Tan Albert, a Singapore citizen.

When ST visited his listed home address – an HDB flat in Serangoon – on Feb 27, a middle-aged man who identified himself as Mr Tan answered the door and acknowledged that he was the director of Sky Premium.

However, he repeatedly told ST that he was unaware of allegations against the company and insisted that queries be directed to his CEO.

Sky Premium is said to have begun operations in Japan in 2013 before launching in Singapore in 2018, when it was billed as the Republic’s first invitation-only “exclusive privileges club”, according to a report in a luxury publication.

At the time, it charged an annual fee of $1,200, with members receiving a welcome package that included a 1g certified gold ingrained membership card and access to its facilities, which were then on the top floor of One Raffles Place. Since December 2023, the top two levels, 61 and 62, of One Raffles Place have been entirely occupied by nightlife venue HighHouse.


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