Expat investor fury ramps up after LMIM management cleared by Oz court

Published:  2 Feb at 6 PM
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Tagged: Australia, Thailand
Expat investors who lost millions when LM Investment Management crashed in March 2013 were furious when an Australian judge cleared LMIM’s founder of any wrongdoing.

Up until several weeks before LMIM, now declared a Ponzi scheme, went into administration, unlicensed financial advisers in Southeast Asia and Australia continued to push clients to invest. At that point, according to reports, IFAs touting the fund were receiving upfront commissions as high as 15 per cent. The collapse wiped out some £500 million of investors’ savings and involved some 12,000 victims across the region.

Reports suggest the case against Peter Drake and two of his directors failed due to the giving of ‘preposterous and evasive testimony’ by an Australian Securities and Investments Commission witness. One British expat living in Bangkok told the Big Chilli magazine he’d lost his life savings and was angry, shocked and freaked out that ASIC had failed to convince the court of Drake’s crimes.

The investor said he and many other members of the investigatory group LMTIG had been hopeful the law would prevail and give positive news, adding he was astonished at ASIC’s failure to present a coherent case when so much evidence had been provided against Drake. Another victim pointed out that most of the investors were fully or semi-retired, with many now destitute.

The Thai Investor Group and its Investor Victim Centre support some 750 duped investors, with its representatives who’d journeyed to the Gold Coast to investigate the fund finding a lack of control and shortfalls in the way the fund was administered. Further investigations revelaed the majority of victims in Thailand were mis-sold the fund by commission-hungry, illegally-working financial advisors in cohorts with offshore insurers including Friends Provident, Royal London and Royal Scandia. Bereft investors who contacted the insurance companies were told the LMIM collapse was not the companies’ problem, even although the insurance giants admitted no due diligence had been undertaken as regards the fund.

Attempts to take action against the advisors who pushed the investment came to nothing as the majority had fled Thailand shortly after the scandal broke. At present, the investors’ group are waiting on the final court report to the ASIC in order to be clear about the reasons why a ‘watertight case’ was thrown out.

According to its spokesperson, the group is now looking for redress from the offshore insurance companies, citing a lack of due diligence, the allowing of marketing of their products by illegally-working IFAs acting as their agents, and their lack of correct licensing for operation across South East Asia. A professional financial services investigator is working on their behalf and lawyers are awaiting his results.

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