REGULATION
Lai See
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Hong Kong-linked company appears on Thai SEC alert list

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 March, 2015, 10:11pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 April, 2015, 3:58pm

We see that one of Mark Kirkham's companies has come to the attention of Thailand's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). PFS International Consultants can now be found on the Thai SEC's alert list. The SEC website says that PFS was put on the alert list for conducting securities and derivative business without a licence from the commission.

The purpose of the alert list is to warn investors not to do business with the approximately 50 unlicensed companies on the list. PFS International is related to Platinum Financial Services, which is a Hong Kong-based insurance broker and is licensed by the Hong Kong Confederation of Insurance Brokers. Kirkham sits on the general committee of the conferderation.

The confederation's primary aim, according to its website, is "to ensure the highest level of professional conduct among its members and to provide the community with a class of insurance brokers whom they can rely upon".

Platinum Financial Services is part of a group of companies that belong to Business Class Group, of which Kirkham is chief executive. Kirkham told Lai See that since PFS International was an insurance broker, it did not engage in securities or derivative business in Thailand and his company had been in discussion with the Thai SEC to get its name removed from the list. He added that the commission had not written to the company or asked it to stop doing business.

The South China Morning Post published a story in August last year reporting that companies that were part of Kirkham's Business Class Group had sold stakes in the Centaur Litigation fund to four investors in Hong Kong, who were interviewed by the Post, even though the fund was not authorised by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), and the investors had not signed professional investor declaration forms.

Kirkham denied that the fund was sold by consultants working for him. Centaur went into liquidation and has been the subject of inquiries by the SFC, which has yet to reveal its findings.

 

Vehicle testing relief?

Lai See was surprised to receive an email from Assistant Commissioner for Transport Cheung Jin-pang in response to our story on the two-month waiting list for vehicles to be tested for a road worthiness certificate. Vehicle owners hoping to get a test a few days before their vehicle licence expires were invariably disappointed.

This has led to the dangerous situation whereby people continue to drive. They risk a fine if caught, but more importantly if they have an accident, insurance companies will say the absence of a roadworthiness certificate invalidates the insurance.

In his email, Cheung says that the Transport Department is shortly going to increase the number of designated vehicle testing stations, though does not say by how many. There are currently 22. Of these, 18 are open on Saturday and as of next month this will increase to 20. In addition, from April, three testing stations will open on Sunday.

Also, by the middle of the year, vehicle owners will be able to view bookings at testing centres online. Cheung also said vehicle owners could get their vehicles tested four months before their licence expired.

The waiting time for vehicle testing has increased significantly over the past few years, mainly as a result of a crackdown by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, which has resulted in a number of people working at these centres appearing in court on charges of conspiring to forge certificates. Whether the new measures do the trick remains to be seen.

Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? Email them to howard.winn@scmp.com

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