SINGAPORE, Oct 11, 2008 (AFP) - About 600 angry investors who lost their savings because of the global financial turmoil gathered in Singapore on Saturday, urging the central bank to help them recover their money.
Many of the investors who trooped to the city-state's Speakers' Corner were retirees who invested their life savings in financial products linked to collapsed US investment bank Lehman Brothers and other institutions.
Tan Kin Lian, the former chief of a Singapore insurance cooperative who organised the gathering, urged the investors to bond together so that they will have a bigger chance of being heard.
He urged them to make individual affidavits and file their complaints as a group before the financial institution where they invested their money.
"If 20, 30 or 40 people make an affidavit at the same time, it will have a stronger impact," Tan said.
The crowd included those who invested in "Lehman Minibonds" and "Merrill Lynch Jubilee Notes". There were also those who invested in "high notes" with Singapore's DBS Bank and Morgan Stanley "pinnacle notes."
Lehman Brothers collapsed last month and its counterpart Merrill Lynch was bought out in a Wall Street meltdown that accelerated a global credit crisis.
Investors interviewed by AFP said they felt "cheated" and "betrayed" because the banks did not fully inform them of the risks when they were offered the financial products.
They also urged the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the de facto central bank, to order an independent investigation into the sale of credit-linked securities and to help them recover their money.
A 60-year-old woman said she risked losing 125,000 Singapore dollars (84,000 US) in life savings invested in DBS Bank "high notes", which promised a higher interest rate than fixed deposits.
"I am a retiree, this is my retirement money," she told AFP.
"I feel very cheated. I feel beaten up and eaten up. The bank must compensate us to bring back the confidence of investors and restore the image of the bank."
Speakers' Corner, the only place where protests are allowed under strict guidelines, usually attracts activists from Singapore's tiny political opposition.