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9-02-2016

As reported by the Independent and others (China arrests peer-to-peer lenders Ezubao in $8bn Ponzi scheme) the Chinese authorities have taken steps to disrupt peer-to-peer lender Ezubao, which is claimed to have operated a vast ¥50bn/$7.6bn Ponzi scheme. If proven the scheme will likely be the largest fraud of its type in Chinese history.

While Ezubao was only established in 2014, through its highly effective marketing campaigns the company caused around 900,000 investors to deposit often vast sums attracted by substantial returns. Compared to Madoff the total sum involved is smaller, however, the number of investors involved is substantially greater. It is also troubling that the mechanism by which Ezubao operated is one that the world has become increasingly familiar with, almost a decade on from Madoff. Ezubao was a slick, modern operation advertising widely and quickly establishing itself as a recognised and trusted brand.

Lessons will need to be learned within China's growing alternative investment sector, and perhaps, elsewhere in the world as well. It can only be hoped that this is not the first of a series of failures (across the globe) which, in the modern era of direct online investment programmes, disproportionately impact the poorest in our societies.

Christopher Burt (cburt@moonbeever.com)

This briefing is intended for general information only and should not be considered as giving advice in relation to any individual case nor be taken as applying to any particular case. No liability is accepted for any such use of the information contained here. If you wish to discuss this issue, please contact Christopher Burt by email or call 0207 539 4105.

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