SINGAPORE: Sky Premium International, a firm registered in Singapore, is under investigation in Japan for a case referred to as the country’s biggest financial scandal.

135 billion yen (S$1.2 billion) was allegedly swindled from 26,000 people through “Lion Premium,” an unauthorized financial product.

Four of Sky Premium International’s top executives, including CEO Atsushi Saito, 45, have been arrested in Japan as part of a crackdown carried out by the authorities. Shinobu Mizushima, 59, the company’s chief sales officer, was also arrested.

Fukuoka Prefectural Police say that the company purported to be an investment advisory service. It proposed ‘Lion Premium’ to its client even though it had no authorization from the Financial Services Agency of Japan for the product.

The police added that this violated the country’s Financial Instruments and Exchange Act.

After complaints were lodged in six prefectures when investors could not retrieve the money they had put into the company, Sky Premium International’s top officials were arrested on Feb 22. The company is also facing several civil lawsuits in courts in Hokkaido, Tokyo, and Osaka, among other cities.

See also  Hotel room booking scam on Carousell & social media: S$430,000 lost, two people arrested

The press in Japan reported that the police are looking into whether the money from the investors was used for forex trading or other purposes, and they believe that it could have been deposited in Hong Kong into an account under the company’s name.

The Straits Times (ST) noted in a Feb 28 (Wednesday) report that a suspect may be legally detained in Japan for as long as 23 days without indictment, but this period may be extended if and when they are “re-arrested” on a different charge.

Sky Premium International launched in Singapore in September 2018 as an exclusive privileges club offering Travel, Wine & Dine, Shopping, and Wellness experiences and products. It offered access to 200 merchants via its website and app.

The company’s Singapore website appears to have been taken down, though its counterpart in Japan is still online, as is the skypremiumsg Instagram page.

IG screengrab/skypremiumsg

“At Sky Premium International, we aspire to be a global lifestyle company that puts a smile on people’s faces — creating delightful experiences beyond expectations,” the company’s bio on LinkedIn reads, and it lists One Raffles Place, Office Tower 2 as the primary address of its facilities.

See also  Police warn against parcel delivery scams; 25 victims lost S$38K

ST noted that another office had been located there for the past few months and that the company’s registered address, the 27th floor of SBF Center in Shenton Way, was seemingly empty.

The company reportedly got into financial troubles during the Covid-19 pandemic. After the Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission in Japan filed a complaint, the Tokyo District Court issued a suspension order on the company in December 2021. /TISG

Read also: Japanese firms withdraw from Malaysia-Singapore high-speed rail project