We have removed permissions from Semantic Business Services Ltd. That means it is no longer permitted to carry out any regulated activities. Semantic had two regulated activities: Secondary credit broking and Agreeing to carry on a regulated activity. Any investments with Semantic may not be protected, and you could lose all your money if you invest with them.
Semantic’s connections with Sentor Solutions Commercial Ltd
Semantic is connected with Sentor Solutions Commercial Ltd, which we recently issued a consumer warning about. Sentor appeared to have been carrying out investment activities for which it did not have permission and consumers may have invested substantial sums through Sentor.
Consumers may have been misled about the scope of Sentor’s permissions and the protection afforded to their investments. Due to this connection, we are concerned that Semantic may also be offering investments to customers. Customers that invest with Semantic could lose all their money.
We believe these firms may be part of a network of credit brokers that are offering investments to consumers which may not be protected.
Customers are strongly encouraged to check the information available on the FCA Register before making any payments in relation to investments. Customers are also advised when considering an investment to check both that they are dealing with a firm that is authorised and that the firm holds investment permissions.
Investments with Semantic
In general, a business does not have to be regulated by the FCA to raise funds by issuing shares or debt securities (such as bonds or loan notes). However, any investment services provided by firms regarding these investments are likely to be regulated, and subject to our rules.
Semantic has never been permitted by the FCA to provide regulated investment services. Any investments offered by Semantic could pose significant risks to consumers due to the potential lack of regulatory protection that would otherwise be afforded to them.
We have attempted to engage with Semantic to understand their connection to several firms we have issued warnings about in recent months, but they have not responded to us. Semantic did not disclose these connections when they applied to us. We believe that there is a significant risk that they may have offered, or been intending to offer, investments to customers which were not protected.
Are investments with Semantic protected?
Whether you can access these services may also depend on whether you have received any regulated services (such as investment advice) in connection with your investment.
The FSCS cannot accept claims that are for poor investment performance.
You can contact the Financial Ombudsman Service or FSCS to see if your investments are protected, and whether you may have a claim if things were to go wrong.
If you are approached to make further payments in order to release an initial investment, you should seek independent advice before making a payment.
Are there other authorised firms that may be offering unprotected investments to customers?
In the past few months we have published consumer warnings against the following firms that may have been offering unprotected investments to customers:
- Cavendish Incorporated Ltd
- Sentor Solutions Commercial Ltd
- Marvell Enterprises Ltd
- Grosvenor Associates Ltd
- Renaissance Advisory Ltd
- Falcon Financial Solutions Ltd and
- Thestral Financial Services Ltd
Most of these firms were only authorised by the FCA to conduct credit broking activities. We believe that these firms, and the investments they may have been offering, may be connected. We encourage customers to be extra vigilant when approached by an authorised credit broking firm offering investments.
What about unauthorised firms offering investments?
Almost all firms offering financial services in the UK must be authorised and registered by us. Check our Financial Services Register to see if a firm or individual is authorised or registered with us and whether the ‘activities and services’ it holds permission for cover the service it is offering.
Always access the Register from our website, rather than through links in emails or on the website of a firm offering you an investment.
Use the FCA Warning List to check the risks of a potential investment – you can also search to see if the firm is known to be operating without our authorisation.
Not all investments are regulated by us (eg wine) – find out more about unregulated investment products.
Where can I find out more information about investing?
Before making any payments in relation to investments, we encourage consumers to see the information on our website, including our ScamSmart pages. In particular, customers should see our information on recovery room scams.
UK consumers are being increasingly targeted by recovery room scams. This is where fraudsters approach investors who have been scammed or had failed investments, offering to help them get their money back for an upfront fee.
Also see our published information for consumers considering investing in products offering high rates of return.