BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — The Brunei Investment Agency (BIA) has denied any involvement in an investment scam following Malaysian reports of people falling prey to fraudsters who claimed to represent BIA.

In a press statement issued on Wednesday, BIA said it was made aware of news reports of a syndicate that used the agency’s name to conduct illegal business activities.

“BIA is not involved in the investment schemes that were perpetrated by individuals unknown and unrelated to the agency,” it added.

As a statutory body that manages Brunei’s reserve fund, BIA does not issue any investment products or investment schemes, nor does it solicit funds or investments from the public.

Malaysian police Wednesday said it received 45 reports of the investment scam allegedly linked to BIA, with losses amounting to RM578,925 ($192,975).

The victims were reported to have been offered oil and gas-based investments from as low as RM120 ($40) with no maximum limit, including a long-term package that promised returns of 200 percent within two to four months.

“It is very similar to pyramid schemes. Initial investigations found the company used ‘Brunei’ in its name but operated [in Malaysia],” Malaysian police was quoted as saying.

The scam was uncovered on April 16 after the admin of the syndicate’s WhatsApp group could not be reached.