A rogue IFA is on the run after a Dubai court convicted him of running a financial services business without a licence.
Neil Grant is the first financial adviser to face such criminal charges in the United Arab Emirates.
The conviction comes after disgruntled customers who claim they lost money with Grant uncovered he was not registered with regulators in Dubai to offer financial advice.
At first, the authorities refused to take the case, but were persuaded to proceed.
Grant was convicted by the Dubai Criminal Court for failing to register his business with the Department of economic Development.
He failed to attend an appeal against the conviction and left the country.
£4 million fraud
The court fined Grant £385 for the offence.
His swindled clients have also started civil proceedings to try and get some money back.
The estimate he had around 400 clients in Dubai from a career lasting around 11 years – and that the average loss came to £100,000.
Grant ran Prosperity Offshore Investment Consultants and Prosperity Management Consultancy from a plush registered office in one of the city’s leading hotels.
When quizzed about which company held the licence, he admitted he did not have one and was working under one held by another company.
Grant and his lawyers have failed to respond to calls from his customers.
Redirected client cash
Amber Waheed, a customer and one of those leading the claims through the courts, says some expats have lost all their money to Grant.
Instead of putting customer cash into agreed investments, Grant redirected their money into high-risk start-ups, including waste removal companies and student property in the UK.
“Alarm bells went off when investors were told the value of their investments were fluctuating wildly in price when they were supposed to have been in more stable, long term investments,” she said.
Grant’s investments turned out to be high-risk, unregulated funds that paid him high upfront commissions of around £3,450 for each new customer.
“I’ve been told by lawyers that this is a landmark case in that it’s the first time a financial advisor has been taken to criminal court and judgment has been ruled in the victim’s favour,” said Waheed.