Financial watchdogs in Thailand are continuing a relentless crack down on unregulated pension advisers.
Following a complaint from an unnamed expat who lost money following pension and investment advice offered by Bangkok firm EMM Consulting, the Economic Crime Suppression Division of the Royal Thai Police have opened an investigation.
Police say two people involved with the firm, Alan Lane and Ratanaporn Aoonta, were not licensed to give pension and investment advice in Thailand.
The firm appears to have closed offices and a web site since the regulator’s intervention.
This is the latest in a series of investigations by the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission, the financial regulator, and the police into financial advisers running businesses with a licence.
In several cases, expats have transferred pensions to QROPS or other investments and lost significant amounts of money.
Expats urged to check out IFAs
The SEC is urging expats to check out advisers and solicitors are regulated before taking financial advice.
“Unregulated financial advice is a problem for expats who tend to meet their advisors who network through bars or expat clubs,” said an SEC spokesman.
“Many of these advisors seem plausible, but they are not licensed to give pension or investment advice and if an expat loses money as a result of their advice, they have no claim for compensation.
The SEC keeps a register of licensed IFAs online and has also set up a telephone hotline for expats to report suspected unlicensed advisers on SEC 1207.
Financial scammers a worldwide problem
Thai fraud detectives are already investigating two other financial advice firms and 11 advisers.
Several of them are British expats trading in Thailand and Hong Kong.
Anyone found guilty of giving unlicensed financial advice faces a jail sentence of between two and five years and a fine of up to £10,000, plus a daily fine of £200 until the infringement ends.
Fraudulent financial advice is a worldwide problem.
Last year in just the USA, 3,000 victims were scammed prompting 27 enforcement cases and the payment of $63 million compensation. That was just the tip of the iceberg – one basketball star lost $25 million to investment misselling from a bogus financial adviser.
See the International Organisation of Securities Commissions web site for official global investment fraud warnings