UK company closes down dollar accounts to clients
Financial.org, an unregulated, UK-registered company that describes itself as “an educational platform”, has closed down the dollar accounts of all its investors, converting the balances to its FOIN cruptocurrency.
Many of the company’s clients now believe they have been victims of an elaborate scam involving investors from countries across Asia and the Middle East.
Britain’s markets regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) put the company on its investor alert list in May, saying that Financial.org had been providing financial services or products in the UK without authorisation.
In the same month the United Arab Emirates’ securities regulator warned investors not to deal with the company as it was not regulated. Financial watchdogs in Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, Indonesia, The Philippines and Thailand were also reported to have warned against dealings with the company.
Additional funds demanded
Reuters reported in May that the company told its investors in a notice on its website that it would close their accounts and take 20% of their money if they did not lift their minimum investment to $10,000 from a previous $3,000.
Reuters reported that the company put a new notice up on its Facebook page on Friday stating that investors could only activate their new FOIN cryptocurrency accounts by investing a further $7,000 before the end of July and could not withdraw any FOIN until next year.
“Just wait for one short year to realise your massive profits,” the notice reportedly said, although reporters for OpenLedger could not find the notice and suspect the Facebook page had been taken down later on Friday morning.
Arnaud Georges, CEO
Chief executive Arnaud Georges was reported to have said in the Facebook notice: “These decisions made are final and non-reversible.
“Legal litigations will definitely take years with no assurance of success and you may lose the opportunity to cash out/realise your profits during the whole litigation period.”
The Reuters report noted that several investors posted in response screenshots of their accounts – one such showed a balance of $9,800 that had been converted to 59 FOIN that he was unable to access.
Not available for comment
OpenLedger tried contacting the Canary Wharf office of Financial.org by phone but was redirected by automated voicemail to a recorded message saying the person at that extension “was unavailable”.
We also contacted the FCA, which alerted us to its statement from May: “We believe this firm has been providing financial services or products in the UK without our authorisation. Find out why to be especially wary of dealing with this unauthorised firm and how to protect yourself from scammers.”
Financial.org launched in September 2016 and is one of the sponsors of the Williams Formula 1 motor racing team.