Singapore is set to become the first major country to face a class action lawsuit from real estate investors.
A group of 20,000 investors filed the lawsuit on Wednesday, saying that the country’s real-estate market was being “driven by unscrupulous and manipulative operators”.
In the filing, the group said it had lost about $5.3bn through mis-selling of the housing market, which they claimed was a result of “unlawful and fraudulent practices” such as under-investment in development projects and misleading listings.
The group said the case was likely to be the first to involve a case of this scale and scope and that it would be challenging for the government to defend itself in court.
The real estate industry is notoriously opaque.
There is no central registry of real estate agents, but some brokers and agents have the names of some of Singapore’s biggest property investors on file.
The government says that it is working to make the market fairer, more transparent and to make it easier to identify real estate scams.
But it has faced a backlash from real-tor groups and real-property investors who have accused it of turning a blind eye to some of the biggest scam cases.