Thai SEC files more complaints against advisers

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The Thai Securities and Exchange Commission has filed another set of criminal complaints against what it says are un-licensed securities business operators doing business in Thailand, in the latest in a spate of such complaints it’s issued over the past eight weeks.

The SEC said in a statement that it had filed a criminal complaint with the Economic Crime Suppression Division of the Royal Thai Police against Bangkok’s EMM Consulting Co, and its owners, Alan Lane and Ratanaporn Aoonta, for “operating securities business without license”, after receiving a complaint from a foreign investor who said he had been solicited by representatives of the firm.

In its statement, the SEC said the foreign investor had been advised “by the financial and investment consultants of EMM Consulting to use their services and investment advice to transform his pension fund abroad into [an] investment” in order to “gain tax benefits and long-term returns”.

“The investor proceeded accordingly, and suffered damage as a result,” the SEC said.

The regulator said that EMM Consulting had not been licensed to operate a “securities business in accordance with the Securities and Exchange Act of 1992”, and thus by advising the foreign investor, had violated this act.

Two to five years imprisonment 

The punishment for conducting securities business without a licence in Thailand includes imprisonment for a term of two to five years, and a fine of between THB200,000 and THB500,000 (US$5,644 and US$14,110), “plus a daily fine of 10,000 baht until the violation ends”, the SEC said in its statement.

EMM Consulting Co, Lane and Aoonta weren’t immediately available for comment.

The SEC said it had filed the latest batch of criminal complaints as a step in the direction of “further legal proceedings”, and urged anyone else who might have been affected by the unlicensed securities business operations of EMM to contact the ECD Police.

In October 2015, the SEC announced that it would be beefing up its activities having to do with financial intermediaries operating in the country. This was seen by some observers as a reaction to a scandal that followed the collapse into administration in 2013 of a Queensland, Australia-based property fund manager, LM Investment Management, which saw many Thailand-based expatriates lose significant amounts of money.  At the time it filed for administration, LMIM’s popular Managed Performance Fund was reported to hold assets under management of approximately A$396.6m (£222.3m).

Investors have been told that they are likely to receive no more than 5p for every £1 invested in LMIM.

As reported,  the Thai SEC kicked off the latest phase of its crack-down on unlicensed investment advisers on 8 Feb, when it filed criminal complaint against Richard Dunston Malpass, a British national, on grounds that he had been operating a securities business in Thailand without a licence. It filed its second complaint two days later  against another British National, named as Neil Arthur Robbirt, chief executive, according to another complaint, of Global Consultant Co, Ltd.

Last July, it filed a similar action against an entity known as Professional Portfolio International (PPI), a financial planning and wealth management business with an office in Bangkok, and two of its employees, again for operating a securities business without a licence.

In response, Eric Jordan, managing director of PPI, told a journalist at the time that he had been told “a number of times over the years” by the SEC that an SEC licence was “not required for our business practice”, but that, as the licensing issue was now being brought to light, the company would now be engaging with the Thai regulator, and that it intended “to cooperate in full with any guidance that is received”.

If you are an adviser who has been named by the Thai SEC in one of its recent announcements, or an individual who has lost money as a result of bad advice from a Thailand-based adviser, and you wish to comment on this matter, email [email protected].