Thai SEC broadens crackdown on fraudulent expat IFAs

Published:  8 Mar at 6 PM
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Investors who fell victim to fraudulent financial advisors operating illegally in Thailand’s popular expat destinations are welcoming new criminal complaints filed by the country’s SEC.

Earlier this year, Thailand’s financial regulator took action against illegal foreign IFAs by filing against two British nationals, accusing them of operating unlicensed financial services businesses. Expats, many of whom had lost their life savings to the LMIM Ponzi scheme punted by illegally-operating and often unqualified IFAs, have welcomed the regulator’s latest move targeting two major firms and a number of individuals.

Both companies now being targeted by the SEC have bases in Bangkok but are registered in offshore locations. Employees of British Virgin Islands-registered Gilt Edge International and Hong Kong-based Platinum Financial Services preyed on unsophisticated expat investors in order to gain the massive commissions offered by the LMIM Managed Performance Fund and other high-risk investments. Total losses sustained by duped expats across Thailand are estimated to range from around 20 million sterling, with many losing their entire retirement nest-egg.

The SEC website names 11 individuals in addition to the two companies. Included is Andrew Wood, well-known for his financial column in the Bangkok Post, one of Thailand’s two mainstream English-language newspapers. Previously, Wood had been linked with a number of financial scandals including the infamous ‘Football Fund’ scam, the Centaur Litigation crash and the Axiom Legal Funding Ponzi scheme. According to the SEC’s website, a number of other foreign-based financial advisory firms are listed as being unlicensed, and are open to criminal charges as a result.

Over the last several years, individuals and groups such as LMTIG have been contacting the Thai regulator concerning investment mis-selling and misrepresentation by rogue IFAs in all the country’s popular expat destinations. Although the SEC’s involvement is being seen as cause for mild celebrations, it remains to be seen whether any reimbursement over and above pennies in the £ will ever be offered to those who’ve lost the chance of a secure retirement due to the actions of unprincipled fraudsters.
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