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Insight

News|Around town

Expats stand to lose their investments after Australian fund collapses At its peak, LMIM had $3 billion in assets under management across nine funds, operated in 70 countries, with offices in Hong Kong, London, Dubai, Queenstown, Toronto, Johannesburg, Sydney and Bangkok. Its founder, New Zealander Peter Drake, a regular visitor to Bangkok, is now heading for bankruptcy. One local broker estimated the potential total loss to investors in Thailand at $50 million. Drake is said to have taken at least $46 million in loans from LMIM before declaring voluntary insolvency. He owns properties in Australia and Fiji. Meanwhile, it has been reported by The Age newspaper in Melbourne that the financial advisers responsible for selling the now-frozen funds stand to collect commissions before their clients see any return. This is disputed by some Bangkok IFAs.

■ SCORES of expatriates in Thailand who invested in mortgage funds managed by LM Investment Management (LMIM) face losing all their money after the Australian-based company collapsed earlier this year and was placed into the hands of administrators. Most of Thailand’s independent financial advisers (IFAs) are believed to have sold at least one of LMIM’s funds to clients here. They include the Managed Performance Fund (MPF), which is evidently causing the greatest anguish to local investors, although it is still in operation. One expatriate commented: “I am furious, as you can imagine, and I’m not optimistic about getting any of my money back.” Other local investors affected by the collapse – one of the biggest-ever of its kind – include teachers and small business operators.

IFAs respond

■ IN the wake of LMIM’s failure, offshore IFAs have formed a body called the Advisers Committee for Investors (ACI), which has produced a damning viewpoint to its members highlighting multiple failures within the Australian regulatory system. The ACI, which comprises IFAs operating in Europe, the Middle East and

Southeast Asia, says its objective is to get the best possible result for investors from the LM crisis. The Committee believes its members have been let down by Australian authorities on their regulation of LMIM as well as its owners on several levels. A press release says: “ACI’s investors are largely (but not exclusively) invested in LM’s Managed Performance Fund (MPF). As of last week, the Membership of the ACI accounted for over 35% of

Paid a bribe? Post your experience on a website BRIBERY of officials and civil servants in Thailand is illegal – and yet there’s no denying it happens on occasions. For some, it can offer a shortcut past unnecessary and time-wasting bureaucracy; for many others, though, it is an irritating and generally undeserved expense.

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all investors in that fund, and if all the pledges for Membership are activated there is a reasonable expectation that the Membership will rise to well over 50% of investors in the MPF. “ACI investors are like any group of investors. Investments were made from ‘hard earned’ monies into a G20 nation with a reputation for solid consumer protection and regulatory controls. In short they trusted Australia but have been let down.”

Now, in an attempt to end petty bribery, a new application has been launched as part of an international initiative to crack down on corruption of this kind. Bribespot Thailand empowers the general public to respond when they encounter public sector bribery. The response can be made via the website (www.bribespot. com/thailand) or via a smart phone application, initially for Android devices and shortly for iPhones. Bribespot, which is based in Europe and brings together developers from Baltic States, Austria, Germany, and the US, says its intention is to alter the mindset of the general public, so that corruption is no longer regarded as a norm which they have no power to change and must silently accept. Dozens of actual incidents can be viewed on the website, which is in English and Thai.

TheBigChilli

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8/31/56 BE 9:53 PM

The Bangkok BigChilli. September 2013.  

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