Exclusive: Bankrupt USGFX’s owner soliciting clients to new usgfx.global site
FNG Exclusive… FNG has learned that BRI Ferrier, the liquidators of bankrupt Australia Retail FX broker Union Standard International Group Pty Ltd which operated the USGFX brand, have sent a letter to former clients of USGFX indicating that they are aware of solicitations being made to those clients by whom they believe to be Soe Hein Minn, the company’s controlling shareholder.
According to BRI Ferrier, clients have been receiving emails from email address email@example.com about a new USG group website, usgfx.global. (The old usgfx.com website was shut down by BRI, and now provides information to former clients of the bankrupt company). BRI believes that the usgfx.global website is owned and run by Soe Hein Minn and/or by entities associated with him, from an office based overseas. The emails have been soliciting clients to transfer funds to First Bank of Puerto Rico.
The usgfx.global website claims to be owned by Vanuatu based Union Standard International Group Ltd, as part of the USG group. As we earlier reported, the USG Group planned to move its global headquarters to London after the Australia bankruptcy mid last year. The group operates FCA licensed Union Standard International Group Limited out of London. The new site is also presenting the USG group’s sponsorship of Sheffield United. The liquidators still consider that sponsorship to be a prepaid asset of the bankrupt Australia USGFX.
There wasn’t much more of an update to clients of the bankrupt USGFX in the letter (see full text below). BRI did indicate that Soe Hein Minn and his representatives were actively attempting to prevent the liquidator from dealing with the company’s affairs and investigating its financial position – in particular by refusing its requests and orders of the Australia court for access to the MT4 and MT5 platforms through which the business was conducted. BRI said that it is currently working with its legal counsel to prepare various applications to the court, seeking directions regarding how to proceed the actions of Mr. Minn and his team.
Soe Hein Minn and his associates have consistently ignored court orders that they disclose Mr. Minn’s whereabouts to the court, and cooperate with BRI Ferrier by (among other things) giving it access to the company’s MT4 and MT5 servers where client data still presumably resides.
For its part, BRI is still trying to sort through client claims as best it can, including many clients who reported that they were enticed to deposit money via USGFX to earn high interest rates. BRI believes that there may be as much as AUD $137 million of such funds missing, dwarfing the size of the “real” licensed operations of the Australia company.
The letter sent today by BRI Ferrier reads as follows:
29 January 2021
UNION STANDARD INTERNATIONAL GROUP PTY LTD (IN LIQUIDATION)
ACN 117 658 349
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – UPDATED ON 29 JANUARY 2021
Dear USG Client,
I refer to our previous Frequently Asked Questions documents dated 13 July 2020, 24 July 2020, 21 August 2020 and 1 September 2020 and provide an updated FAQs. This should be read together with our previous FAQs.
This FAQ is also available to view on the BRI Ferrier website: http://briferrier.com.au/about-us/currentmatters/union-standard-international-group-pty-ltd.
1. What is happening in the Liquidation?
We have encountered substantial difficulties in conducting this external administration, primarily due to the conduct of the shareholder, Union Standard Group International Holdings Limited (registered in Samoa) and Mr Soe Hein Minn (Director and major beneficial owner of the Shareholder) and their representatives. Those parties have actively attempted to prevent us from dealing with the Company’s affairs and investigating its financial position, in particular by refusing our requests and orders of the Court for access to the MT4 and MT5 platforms through which the business is conducted.
We are currently working with our legal counsel to prepare various applications to the Court, seeking directions regarding how we should:
deal with the multiple pools of funds held by the Liquidators;
assess the Company’s clients’ entitlements to those funds; and
distribute those funds.
We will provide an update to creditors and clients once the application has been heard by the Court.
We reiterate that the Company is not trading, not taking new deposits or permitting withdrawals.
2. I received an email from firstname.lastname@example.org about a new USG website, does this mean the Company is trading again?
The Liquidators have not authorised the setup of a new website and has not recommenced trading.
Please be advised that the email account email@example.com does not act for or on behalf of the Liquidators. Instead, we understand this email address is controlled by the Shareholder of the Company and/or entities associated with it, from an office based overseas. The only authorised email address for any correspondence relating to the Company and the Liquidation process is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new website appears to have been created as a direct result of the Liquidators taking down the Company’s website, https://www.usgfx.com/. We are aware that the new website may still have references to the Company and the Company’s AFSL. The Liquidators have not authorised the use of the Company’s details and the AFSL remains cancelled by ASIC.
The Company has not resumed trading and the business has not been sold. Withdrawals remain suspended, and are to be dealt with through claims submitted in the Liquidation process.
3. I received an email from email@example.com about the transfer of USG bank accounts to First Bank of Puerto Rico, are my funds safe?
As noted above, the email account firstname.lastname@example.org does not act for or on behalf of the Liquidators. The trust accounts held with Commonwealth Bank of Australia have been frozen since our appointment on 8 July 2020, totalling circa AUD$6M. The funds have remained in these trust accounts since that date. The funds held in these trust accounts have not been transferred to the First Bank of Puerto Rico.
4. When will I receive further updates from BRI Ferrier?
As noted above, we will provide an update to creditors and clients once the applications referred to in Question 1 have been heard by the Court, resulting in orders from the Court. Creditors will be kept apprised of any major developments in the Liquidation, in particular with regard to the return of funds.
The most recent report issued to all creditors was the Statutory Report to Creditors on 3 December 2020, and a copy can be found here: http://briferrier.com.au/about-us/current-matters/union-standardinternational-group-pty-ltd. Since that date, we have issued regular reports to the Committee of Inspection (“COI”) and held meetings with the COI to discuss these reports. These reports are confidential for the COI members.
The COI was appointed by the creditors at the creditors meeting on 16 October 2020. No new members are currently being admitted to the COI. The Corporations Act 2001 requires a resolution to be passed at a meeting of creditors, and we do not consider it practical to convene a meeting for the sole purpose of appointing new members to the COI.
5. Do I need to complete a proof of debt form?
Until funds are returned to you, you are considered a creditor of the Company and are encouraged to complete and return to this office a proof of debt form, a copy of which is available to download from the BRI Ferrier website.
This document represents a formal declaration by you as to the funds owed to you by the Company as at the Administrators’ appointment on 8 July 2020. If your closed contracts (crystallised position) shows there is a balance owed to you, you should submit your claim in respect of this balance, excluding any credits as it cannot be “cashed out”.
Completion of the Proof of Debt Form does not automatically provide you with an entitlement to receive a refund. As mentioned above, we will need to confirm the balance of client liabilities before any refunds or withdrawals can be considered.
The above list should not be considered exhaustive and this document will be updated periodically as the matter develops.
Novabrif Pty Ltd Trading as BRI Ferrier ABN 61 643 013 610