"World's future richest man" arrested in Phuket

BANGKOK - Chinese national Zhang Jian, the self-proclaimed "future richest man in the world", has been arrested in Thailand.

According to Thailand daily The Nation, he was arrested by local police over a pyramid scheme that reportedly duped people in China and Malaysia out of 6 billion bhat (S$235 million) and 3 billion bhat (S$117 million) respectively.

Police are looking for Thais who may have been caught in the scheme, which was launched in June.

They also seized assets from the three worth 240 million bhat (S$9.4 million) in total.

The daily also reported that Bangkok police arrested Song Miqui, 37, and Wang Wenfang, 29, at a condominium in Pathumwan on Monday and seized cash in various currencies worth nearly 1 million bhat (S$39,000) in total, five Phuket land sale contracts worth 22.3 million bhat (S$874,000) two Phuket land title deeds, Wang's bank account with 1.5 million bhat (S$58,000) in it, and the suspects' Thai ID cards.

The 26-year-old Zhang, who founded the controversial YSLM multi-level marketing business, underwent a 100-day temporary ordination programme at a temple in Phuket since early August.

In early July, Zhang made headlines in the Malaysian media when billboards of him appeared in Penang, proclaiming himself as the "future richest man in the world".

He also awarded his lucky "distributors" with luxury cars.

Malaysia's Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry had launched an investigation on YSLM - also known as Yun Shu Mao - of being linked to a get-rich-quick scam before Zhang left to Thailand.

The company later offered a refund to those who had not introduced any new members to the company.

Hundreds of people accepted the offer.