The FSA has successfully taken legal action against an offshore firm, with a service address...
The FSA has successfully taken legal action against an offshore firm, with a service address in London, that targeted UK investors.
The High Court in London declared Barcelona-based Fraser Lindhardt & Webb, trading as "Trident Market Advisers" (Trident), carried out unauthorised investment business in the UK, made misleading and false statements and issued investment advertisements without the required approval. The court made a permanent order requiring Trident to cease these activities. It also ordered investigations to be made with a view to Trident reimbursing its customers.
Trident used mailshots to attract UK customers' interest and then offered them share dealing and investment advice services, but it was not authorised to undertake such business. FSA investigations found that Trident carried out 665 share trades during August to December 2000, but many customers did not actually receive their share certificates. These 665 trades were worth over £2m. The precise value of Trident's assets still needs to be confirmed.
The court declared Trident also deliberately misled its customers. In one case, a Trident customer visited Trident's offices at 60, Lombard Street, London and phoned up from reception to speak to a representative of Trident. When he asked to see a representative of Trident in person, he was told that the trading floor was busy and no-one was free to see him. Trident did not have any trading floors in the UK and Trident's representative was speaking to his customer from Barcelona.
The court's declarations and orders were not opposed by Trident, which did not attend the court hearing. The FSA will now investigate Trident's assets with a view to returning any available assets to investors who suffered a loss.
FSA Managing Director, Carol Sergeant, commented: "The easiest way to check whether a firm is authorised in the UK is either to ring the FSA Consumer Helpline on 0845 606 1234 or go on to the FSA's website, www.fsa.gov.uk ".
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