News

How the scheme worked

CTL Group and its founder and director, Ms Clara Tan, were hot in the property scene between 2008 and 2012.

Her seminars on topics such as maximising rental yield, spotting prime property below market value, need-to-know tips for foreign markets and the power of leverage saw robust turnouts, and were sometimes over-subscribed.

Believing in her business model, several Singaporeans invested their hard-earned savings in her projects in Memphis and Indianapolis, where she said she "flipped" properties.

When the US housing bubble burst and the 2008 banking crisis followed, owners in many US cities, including Memphis and Indianapolis, were badly hit.

Many simply abandoned the properties they could no longer make payments for. The Singaporean investors bought over these houses.

REPAIR

Their money was supposed to be used to repair dozens of homes in some of the most down-and-out neighbourhoods of the two cities.

The investors paid in full and the cost was supposed to cover all renovations.

There were not supposed to be bank loans.

They also owned the US properties but to minimise work on their part, they signed the power of attorney over to Ms Tan's company for CTL to manage the properties.

But only one of the 12 investors TNPS met received a title deed. The rest never got their documents because they were told the documents would all be posted online on the company's website.

It never happened.

In Indianapolis, Ms Tan's company popped up in county land sales records of 2013 as the buyer of at least 18 low-priced homes in Center Township.

These purchases stood out, because at least eight were sold by non-profit group New Day Residential.

In May 2013, the president of New Day Residential was among five people charged in a kickback and bribery scandal involving vacant homes sold by the city-run Indy Land Bank.

FRAUD

One John Hawkins pleaded guilty to wire fraud in an alleged scheme to reap kickbacks from the sale of abandoned properties last June.

On Sept 2013, The Indianapolis Star reported that CTL Global Holdings had already resold some of its Indianapolis properties "at prices sharply higher than it paid for them to buyers with Asian names".

For instance, records in 2013 showed two side-by-side houses bought by CTL were sold by the Land Bank to New Day for US$2,500 (S$3,390) in March.

They were resold that same month to CTL for US$10,000 and in April, CTL "flipped" the houses for US$38,334 each to the current owners.

Both homes remain unrenovated.