Malaysian businessman refutes allegations over Aussie retirement village scandal

PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

PETALING JAYA - Malaysian businessman Lee Seng Huang (pic) has refuted allegations over financial improprieties at Australian retirement village company Aveo.

A joint investigation by the ABC's Four Corners and Fairfax Media into the retirement village company, claimed that residents were left vulnerable to exploitation by a hotchpotch of legislation and underfunded consumer affairs bodies.

When contacted by telephone on Tuesday, Lee said: "Aveo runs a very large and complex operation with more than 2,000 staff, across 89 villages, covering over 13,000 residents.

"To take a few complaint cases and blow it out of proportion makes a great story but unfortunately, it is very unfair to our dedicated team that is doing the best it can in offering the highest levels of care to the Aveo residents," he added.

Lee is a non-executive chairman and a major shareholder of Aveo, which is 22.6 per cent owned by Mulpha International Bhd.

Mulpha is the Malaysian listed company that the Lee family controls.

The series of articles and videos by the media highlighted interviews with a number of current and former residents, their children, lawyers, former Aveo staff and lobby groups, and found some questionable business practices.

They described Aveo's practices as a "get poor quick scheme" for the individual investor in a property or retirement village, and "predatory" in nature and a form of "financial abuse of the elderly".

Lee, however, said: "When we were questioned on these cases prior to the story, the company released a 19-page answer to address the alleged complaints point by point. This has been released to the ASX (Australian Securities Exchange). This was largely ignored by the programme.

"Each complaint that was aired had a specific set of circumstances surrounding them that resulted in the outcome. It is not systemic of the business and we do not exploit our residents.

"Again objectively speaking, if you look at our resident surveys and customer satisfaction scores, they paint a very different picture from that which was portrayed by the TV programme," he said.

He added that all Aveo's residents and potential residents are given a choice as well as a 120-day cooling off period to decide whether the lifestyle at the retirement village is for them.

"There are no restrictions or cost on them should they decide not to stay at one of our villages. How is that exploiting them?" he asked.

More about
Business

VIDEOS TO WATCH

SERVICES