By Stanley Carvalho
ABU DHABI, May 2 (Reuters) - The United Arab Emirates’ securities regulator on Wednesday warned investors not to deal with Financial.org, an unregulated British company that has attracted investors from countries across Asia and the Gulf.
The alert comes after the Philippines watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), warned last month that salesmen, brokers, dealers or agents who promoted unauthorised investments such as Financial.org could face a fine and up to 21 years in prison.
Regulators in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand have also placed Financial.org on alert lists of unauthorised firms with whom investors should exercise caution.
“The (UAE) authority warns investors against dealing with that website (Financial.org) and any services it is offering regarding financial products and investment portfolios,” the Emirates Securities & Commodities Authority said in a statement.
It added that Financial.org did not have permission to engage in financial transactions.
Financial.org, a sponsor of British Formula One team Williams, could not immediately be reached for a comment via its website. Williams declined comment.
Reuters reported in January that Financial.org is managing hundreds of thousands of dollars for Asian investors even though it is not licensed to engage in financial transactions.
Financial.org, which describes itself as an education business, is not on a publicly available list of firms authorised and regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to buy and sell stocks or bonds for clients. Offering investment services without regulatory permission is a criminal offence in Britain.
The FCA is conducting inquiries into the company’s activities, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters in March. (Additional reporting by Kirstin Ridley and Carolyn Cohn in London, editing by Saeed Azhar and Adrian Croft)