Expats lost millions in catastrophic demise of property fund, leaving many destitute
By Special Correspondent
A former Bangkok-based ‘financial adviser’ whose expats clients invested millions of dollars in the infamous LM property fund which collapsed in 2013, is reportedly facing extradition from the UK to Thailand over allegations that he operated an unlicensed business known as Global Investments in the kingdom.
Neil Arthur Robbirt, 59, was arrested late last year in Kent, England, on an international arrest warrant (IAW) from Thailand, according to Essex News and Investigations, but later apparently released on conditional bail.
Robbirt became the subject of a criminal complaint by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to the Royal Thai Police in February 2016. Two months earlier, he had emailed clients suggesting Global Investments’ presence in Thailand was to be reduced and he would spend more time in Africa and Latin America.
The fund collapsed in March 2013 despite an audited valuation some months earlier of an estimated AUS$3 billion, plus allegedly AUS$400 million in cash. However, investors were later told to expect a return of less than five cents in the dollar on their initial investment based on the fund’s actual realizable assets.
Many of those affected by what turned out to be a huge scam are in their sixties and were already enjoying their retirement when news of LM’s demise was announced. Some have been left destitute, while others are now trying to find new ways of earning a living.
On Global Investment’s website, Robbirt is quoted as saying, “discretion is guaranteed in the interests of each and every Global client, and we believe we have developed a renowned reputation based on integrity, professionalism and the provision of expert advice.”
The IAW alleges that "on dates unknown between 2001 and 2006 in the territory of Thailand, he engaged in securities and investments business, when he was not authorised or had permission to do so from the Thai authorities."
Robbirt, whose offshore companies were also identified in the 2016 Panama Papers leak of law firm Mossack Fonseca client information, had been operating in Thailand since 1994.