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Fraud knows no Boundaries

15 Apr

Author Paul Kruger

Publications: InsuranceGateways

Date Published: 15 April 2014

Consumers at the lower end of the market are often more vulnerable when it comes to being defrauded.

The latest Ombud determination provides details of how the Reformed Christians for Truth Church became the victims of an “advisor” (himself a pastor) who was neither registered with the FSB, nor appointed as an agent of the licensed financial service provider he claimed to represent.

The agreement was that he would provide funeral cover for congregants of the church, and that claims would be paid out within 48 hours. The first claim arose in December 2012. When it was not paid by January 2013, the church conducted an investigation and established that “…no funeral cover was in place.”

They referred the matter to the FAIS Ombud. In response to an enquiry from the Ombud, the respondent undertook to settle the outstanding amount before 30 April 2013, but this never happened, and the respondent seems to have disappeared.

The Ombud concluded:

The second respondent’s conduct is not only illegal in terms of the FAIS Act. His conduct is also unlawful in terms of the common law and amounts to fraud. On that basis alone, the second respondent must be held personally liable for the entire amount claimed.

The respondent was ordered to repay the church’s R18 000 within 7 days from date of the determination, and interest hereafter to the date of final payment.

As in the two cases discussed last week, the perpetrator was aware that he needed to be licensed, and that he had to work through a licensed product provider. It appears that he blatantly lied about this. He even used the FSP number of a registered provider despite not being registered as a rep with them.

It is not clear how the church became aware of the office of the Ombud, but at least it managed to get a determination in its favour. What has happened since is anybody’s guess. By January 2014, the outstanding amount had still not yet been paid and the respondent, who undertook to repay the money by the end of April, is missing in action.

There is, of course, no way that the Regulator would have been able to establish or prevent this.

One can only speculate on how many other incidents of this nature occur without the victims having recourse to remedy through ignorance. It is likely that such occurrences are prevalent in this sector of the market. The only long-term remedy appears to be consumer education regarding the safeguards in place to protect them from such scams.

One of the recent amendments to the FAIS Act concerns fit and proper requirements. The following is an extract from a summary written by Alan Holton, a compliance officer and associate of Moonstone:

A new S 6A (Fit and Proper Requirements) has been added to this statute. In terms of S 6A, the registrar must classify financial services providers into different categories and determine fit and proper requirements for each category of providers.

The registrar must then, in each category of providers, determine fit and proper requirements for the key individuals of providers, representatives of providers, key individuals of representatives of providers and compliance officers.

The challenge, of course, does not lie in regulating those in the flock, in a manner of speaking – it is those who opt to operate outside the legal parameters that are most likely to cause harm.

There are currently a number of investment schemes offering above average returns. They do not operate under the radar, advertise brazenly and must be making millions if one looks at their advertising campaigns. Some may well be doing what they promise, but so did major property syndications before market conditions changed.

It seems that the starting point for many of these operators is to set up structures which fall outside the jurisdiction of the regulatory authorities. This appeared to be the case with the Relative Value Arbitrage Fund which camouflaged its business operations in such a way that the FSB was unable to detect anything untoward during an inspection in May 2011. During a further investigation a year later, Herman Pretorius shot his business partner and himself.

There are no easy solutions to the problem of rogue operators. Hopefully, the implementation of Twin Peaks will cast the net wider, and contribute to a safer financial services environment.

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FAIS Supervision Annual Report

5 Dec

Author: Unknown

Publications: InsuranceGateways

Date Published: 05 December 2013

The FAIS Supervision Department of the FSB supervises financial services providers (FSPs) in terms of a risk-based approach. In response to the changing face of the regulatory landscape, international trends and outcomes of previous years’ on-site visits, the department introduced a new Medium to High risk category to define the risk of non-compliance more accurately.
A total of 10 297 FSPs were categorised. Interestingly, the number “only” decreased by 493, but a closer look at the table below shows a marked decline in the number of small FSPs from 6 839 to 3 362 – a loss of 3477, or nearly 51%. The table below reflects the categorisation of FSPs in terms of the new risk-based supervision approach as at 31 March 2013. The categorisation was changed with the introduction of a Medium-High Impact (MHI) category. During the period under review, the emphasis was placed on off-site monitoring of High Impact and MHI FSPs.

2012/2013

2011/2012

High Impact

283

262

Medium-High Impact (MHI)

973

0

Medium Impact

3 411

2 331

Small-Medium Impact (SMI)

2 268

1 358

Small FSPs

3 362

6 839

Total

10 297

10 790

Risk Assessment Visits to FSPs
A total of 643 FSPs received visits. Of these, 490, or 76.2% occurred at the medium to high impact categories.
The report states that the overall compliance of FSPs was satisfactory, and a definite improvement was noticeable during the period under review. The overall understanding of key individuals and representatives with regard to compliance was far better, which can mainly be attributed to the knowledge gained in their preparation for the regulatory examinations. The following issues of concern were noted:

Description

Percentage occurrence %

Sections 4 and 5 of the General Code of Conduct (GCOC): Disclosure of documentation is non-compliant

35.40

License conditions: Business information is not updated within 15 days of change taking place

26.55

Good business practices are not followed

20.06

None-compliance with part VIII of the Determination of Fit and Proper Requirements: FSPs not having a business continuity plan in place

16.81

Sections 11 and 12 of the GCOC: FSPs of which the Risk Management Plan is inadequate

16.22

No register/records kept of training undergone by key individuals and representatives

14.75

Section 7 of the GCOC: Disclosure made to client in terms of the product and services are inadequate

14.16

Non-compliance with part IX of the Determination of Fit and Proper Requirements: FSPs not complying with the financial soundness requirements

14.16

Section 3A of the GCOC: FSPs that have not adopted, maintained and implemented a conflict of interest management policy

9.44

Corporate governance measures are inadequate

8.85

Compliance Practice Visits
During the period under review, the Supervision Department reviewed 33 independent compliance practices. The majority of the compliance practices provided acceptable compliance services to clients.
However, there were some areas that needed improvement, which were identified and addressed with the respective practices. During the review of the risk-based framework, a process of recording of information on compliance practices was developed and is being introduced. It is envisaged that this will enable supervisors to focus proactively on specific concerns relating to external compliance officers.
Specific On-site Visits The Registrar of FSPs ordered an inspection into the affairs of Mr Herman Pretorius, RVAF and Polus Capital (Pty) Ltd. During the inspection, the RVAF scheme collapsed and it was established that 16 authorised FSPs were involved in soliciting clients on behalf of the late Mr Pretorius. On-site visits to probe their participation in assisting clients to place investments in the RVAF and other schemes offered by the late Mr Pretorius were conducted. At the end of the period under review, these investigations were still continuing.
Communication with FSPs
The FAIS Supervision Department implemented a comprehensive communication strategy during the period under review, including newsletters, information circulars, workshops, conferences and telematics broadcasts. Guest speakers at the conference and workshops included speakers from other FSB departments, as well as industry experts.
A joint exercise between FAIS Supervision and FAIS Registration was focused on the funeral industry. A large number of workshops were held to assist this part of the industry to understand the registration (licensing) requirements, as well as the ongoing requirements for maintaining a license. During these workshops, FSPs were specifically assisted to complete compliance reports and financial statements.
Specialisation Areas As part of the Department’s risk-based approach, supervisory staff members are involved in specialisation areas. Seven focus groups, including ones for unconventional FSPs (foreign FSPs, forex investment providers, retailers, motor dealers, estate agents and auditors), banking, medical schemes and compliance officers were tasked with providing guidance in these specific specialisation areas. Research into industry practices and thematic work, as well as focused on-site visits, was conducted. Issues that came to the fore led to the compilation of information circulars on bulk client transfers and the re-signing of client mandates, cash management system accounts, fee disclosure and material irregularity reporting by compliance officers.

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