("RIAN Novosty") Ukrainian investors have lost an unprecedented $80 million after a major financial pyramid collapsed, a Ukrainian daily newspaper said Thursday.

The Segodnya newspaper said Ukrainians had invested from $20,000 to $80,000 into Elite-Center, an investment and construction company, which said it would build apartments in six residential buildings in Kiev.

However, news broke on Monday that two Elite-Center executive directors had disappeared, leaving only a few thousand dollars in the company's accounts, the newspaper said.

Angry investors gathered Thursday in front of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry's building, demanding that the authorities take action to find the alleged fraudsters and return their money.

Mikhail Maruk, the head of a police precinct in Kiev, said the police had already accepted 70 written claims from investors in the company. The total number of victims in the $80-million scam may amount to 1,500 people, he added.

The newspaper said that people from an initiative group formed by investors had tried earlier to protest in front of the Ukrainian president's secretariat, but were advised to turn to the courts.


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