Expats hold out for compensation in French investment fraud as experts call for better cross border regulation

by Ray Clancy on May 20, 2010

A group of expats in France who were defrauded out of their savings by a conman who set up an investment fund claiming to be backed by a major French bank have rejected an offer of compensation and are holding out to get more of their money back.

The investors, based in the Dordogne, south west France, were defrauded out of up to $500,000 each by serial fraudster Graham Templeton, also known as Warren Templeton and Graham Biggs, who is now serving a two year prison sentence.

They invested in his Swan Fund Ltd, a five year savings bond offering 15% returns, which he claimed was backed by French Bank Societe Generale but a loophole in the French banking system that allows the counter signing of cheques enabled Templeton to countersign the back of cheques he received and pay them into his own personal bank account.

The victims want Societe Generale to reimburse their money as they claim its systems allowed Templeton to commit the fraud. They rejected an initial offer of a third and have now rejected a renewed offer of 75%, saying they want at least 95% back.

According to financial experts the case highlights the need for easier cross-border access to regulated financial advisers in Europe. The current passporting system allows authorised advisers in one European Union country to offer their services in another but regulation is not of the same standard in all states.

According to Hannah Beecham, author of Expat Money: The Definitive Personal Finance Manual for Brits Abroad, techniques used by conmen are becoming increasingly sophisticated and it is vital for expats to check the credentials of an adviser.

‘The problem is that in Europe there are too many different levels of regulation. This confusion makes it much easier for so-called advisers to appear regulated when they are not,’ she said.

‘Quite frankly, it’s a minefield. It requires expats to not only have knowledge of what type of advice is and is not allowed under passporting, but they also have to potentially check with a number of regulators across borders using systems and procedures they may not feel comfortable with, or even capable of accessing,’ added Beecham from ExpatMoneyChannel.

She advises expats not to rely on word of mouth and not to accept regulatory and legal information on business cards, letterheads or websites at face value as this information can easily be falsified.

People should try to make their own regulatory checks and avoid using cheques as loopholes like the French countersigning situation make them a less safe way of transferring funds.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

@gavinbeqtr May 21, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Seems to a lot of cash tied up here.

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