UK MPs join fight for expat losers in PremierFX scam

UK MPs join fight for expat losers in PremierFX scam

UK MPs join fight for expat losers in PremierFX scam

One of the first risks encountered by newly-arrived expats is that of being scammed out of their savings by dodgy financial advisors working illegally in popular retirement destinations.

It’s a sad fact of emigration to a new land overseas that many new arrivals are befriended by seemingly friendly expatriates looking to defraud them one way or another. In the confusion of adjusting to a new culture and way of life, it’s easy to believe everyone you meet has your best interests at heart and is simply trying to help. For newly-arrived expats, it seems logical to go along with advice, especially if it’s related to improving your financial status.

One of the worst such scams took place in July last year, when Palma-based currency exchange firm Premier FX ceased trading without notice. Resulting losses by dozens of British expats in Spain totalled millions of pounds, and nine months have now passed without any information as to when or if the perpetrators would be arrested or the lost savings returned. To date, those affected have received no information as to the progress of any investigation.

Anger is growing against the UK’s Financial Conduct Agency (FCA), with victims believing the watchdog is attempting to get out of its responsibilities as regards an investigation. One expat living in Cas Catala is now launching a legal case against the defunct company, with her actions alerting several British MPs who are now demanding the FCA investigates as a matter of priority. As a result, Dover MP Charlie Elphicke has since met with the authorities in order to determine the progress of the case.

PremierFX, based in and operating from Palma as well as with offices in London and Portugal, ceased trading without any warning and was only registered with the FCA to provide money transfer services. It appears the firm had also encouraged regular clients to use it as a deposit base providing a type of savings vehicle, but was not registered for the service with the FCA. Apparently, the firm got into difficulties following the sudden death on Mallorca of owner Peter Rexstrew. An initial investigation by British police was scrapped due to ‘insufficient funding’, and nothing has happened since then.

It’s not the first time police investigations into clearly-defined financial crimes have faded away before any results have been obtained, with a similar result from a UK police investigation into huge losses by expats in Thailand due to the LMIM ponzi scheme. IFAs in Bangkok and Chiang Mai had been heavily pushing the investment right up to two weeks before it crashed, leaving millions lost not just in Thailand but all over Asia. The Chiang Mai-based IFA fled back to the UK to avoid infuriated investors, one of whom followed him and got the police involved. Several years later, it was apparent the investigation had died a death, leaving the victims without recompense for their losses.

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