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Expat Investor : November 2007
expatinvestor.com 4 EXPAT INVESTOR November 2007 Fast Facts 99003 *A ER stands for Annual Equivalent Rate which is a notional rate which illustrates the contractual rate as if paid and compounded on an annual basis. Assumes rates will remain unchanged for 12 months. Zurich Bank International Limited is registered in the Isle of Man Number 22847. PO Box 422, Lord Street, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM99 3AF, British Isles. Telephone: +44 (0)1624 671666 Fax: +44 (0)1624 627526. www.zurichbankinternational.com Registered office: 43-51 Athol Street, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM99 1ET, British Isles. Telephone calls may be recorded. Licensed by the Isle of Man Financial Supervision Commission for banking business. •W egive you security and easy access to your money, plus a great rate of interest. •W e guarantee your interest will be no more than 0.25% below the Bank of England Base Rate until January 2010. •Alow minimum investment of £5,000. • Personal service, with no call centres. So for great returns, relax and leave the hard work to us. R Because change happen TM www.zurichbankinternational.com Are you always having to move your money around to get the best rate? The Zurich Reward Account's guarantee means you can take it easy while your money works hard. 6.00% Gross pa/AER* Variable Easy access to your money To find out more about the Zurich Reward Account call: +44 (0) 1624 671666 (quoting ref no. EP11) or visit our website What if you could guarantee your money worked as hard as you do? NEWS AND VIEWS The Trojans failed to beware of Greeks bearing gifts and they paid the price. For a growing number of investors around the world, a similar danger lies with Chicago stockbrokers, who also appear laden with bounty, only to turn from big benefactors into even bigger thieves. The stockbrokers in question are called Wiess & Co and their address is one of the smartest skyscrapers in the Windy City. Out of the blue, they contacted shareholders in a small company, Multi Group, whose shares were trading publicly at under 2p. According to the brokers, they represented a client who was putting together a bid for Multi Group. He already spoke for more than 40 per cent of the company's shares, and he was willing to pay over the odds to take him past the 50 per cent mark. In fact, he was willing to pay £20 a share! And Multi Group's shareholders were not the only beneficiaries. Security company Sectorguard, whose shares changed hands at under 4p, found that its investors were being contacted by Wiess & Co with exactly the same story of a takeover bid, and they were being offered £7 a share. Similar approaches were made to shareholders in Qonnectis, who were offered £2 for shares trading in the market at under 1p. In each case there was just one small drawback. According to Wiess & Co, under US takeover rules, the shareholders had to pay for an insurance bond that would compensate the bidder if they accepted the huge sums on offer but then refused to sign over their shares. The premium was typically around US$15,000 (about £7,500), to be paid up front by the shareholder before the deal could go ahead. Later, when he handed over his shares, this money would be refunded. But curiously, although the insurance bond was supposed to be issued by another Chicago company called Stateasure Inc, the premium had to be sent by bank transfer to an account in Hong Kong. And predictably, of course, once the premium had been paid, Wiess & Co suddenly found reasons why the takeover was delayed. Or, they simply stopped answering enquiries from increasingly anxious shareholders. Wo rse, it turns out there is no firm of Chicago stockbrokers called Wiess & Co. Nor do state authorities have any record of an insurance company called Stateasure. Nor does either business turn out to have offices at the addresses they use. They do all their deals by telephone or internet, which means they could be anywhere in the world. In fact, an identical scam was operated recently by a firm using an address in Quebec. Brokers W.R. Bainbridge Limited were supposedly based in a major office building in Montreal, and from there they contacted investors in a small, near- bankrupt video surveillance company called Farsight. The company had failed to file accounts and was in such a bad way that trading in its shares had been suspended. In fact, the wheels were already in motion to put it into liquidation. Nevertheless, Bainbridge had a client who wanted to take over Fa r sight and would pay an amazing £47 a share. Of course, shareholders had to pay the 'normal' insurance bond premium of a few thousand pounds up front! And of course, it turned out that Bainbridge was not at its Montreal address after all, and there is no such company registered anywhere in Quebec. But here's an odd thing. The telephone number Bainbridge of Montreal gave to its victims was 800- 578-8345. And the telephone number Wiess & Co of Chicago gave to its victims was 800-578-8365. Coincidence? I think not! Readers are invited to contact Tony Hetherington via the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org Beware Chicago stockbrokers bearing gifts Financial investigator Tony Hetherington exposes a share scam which is causing investors to lose thousands. HMRC's revised rates New rates of interest on direct and indirect taxes and NI contributions paid late and overpaid have been announced. The rate of interest charged on income tax, NI contributions, capital gains tax, stamp duty, stamp duty land tax and stamp duty reserve tax paid late, tax credits overpayments in cases of fraud, neglect and on penalties charged, and on tax charged by an assessment for the purpose of making good to the Crown a loss of tax wholly or partly attributable to failure or error by the taxpayer changes rises from 7.5% to 8.5%. The rate of interest on overpaid income tax, NI contributions, capital gains tax, stamp duty, stamp duty land tax and stamp duty reserve tax (repayment supplement) changes from 3% to 4%. The rate of interest on late payment of income tax on company payments which became due on or after 14 October 1999 also rises to 8.5%, and the rate of interest for late payments or repayments of inheritance tax, capital transfer tax and estate duty rises from 4% to 5%. HMRC adds that where an official error has caused an overpayment, a failure to claim credit, or a delay in certain repayments of VAT, insurance premium tax, land fill tax, climate change levy, aggregates levy and excise duties, or where there has been undue delay in processing a claim for repayment of excise duty and customs duty, the rate payable is now 5%. Readers can find out more by logging onto www.hmrc.gov.uk