The Jakarta Post
The Financial Services Authority (OJK) has instructed financial advisory company PT Jouska Financial Indonesia to cease operations over allegations of illegal stock brokerage and investment mismanagement.
The OJK’s Investment Alert Task Force also shut down PT Mahesa Strategis Indonesia and PT Amarta Investa Indonesia, which are alleged to have provided investment management services and financial advice without proper licenses. It has also blocked all three companies’ websites, applications and social media accounts through the Communications and Information Ministry.
The decision was made after the task force summoned and questioned Jouska CEO and founder Aakar Abyasa Fidzuno following complaints on social media from its clients.
“We’ve asked PT Jouska to settle the disputes with its clients transparently and invite the customers to settle the issues,” the task force said in a press statement. “We ask Jouska to process its licenses in line with its business activity as soon as possible.”
The task force revealed that Jouska received a license as an education-services company through the Online Single Submission (OSS). It further said in the statement that Aakar had accepted the decisions.
The case was uncovered when several clients and former clients of Jouska, which claims to be an independent financial advisory company and which gained its popularity among young investors via social media, took to Twitter, saying Jouska’s decision to invest their funds in low quality stocks had resulted in a slump in their portfolio values by more than 70 percent.
A former client also uploaded an offering letter and a contract he received from the company when using its services in 2018 and 2019.
The offering letter stated that aside from educating the client and helping them to pick the right investment instrument based on their profile, Jouska would have the right to manage the client’s funds, as well as to buy and sell stocks in their portfolio. The client then entered into a fund-management contract with Amarta Investa while others said they signed a contract with Mahesa Strategis.
The Jakarta Post has learned that Jouska, Amarta Investa and Mahesa Strategis are not registered as investment-management companies or securities companies at the OJK.
“Independent financial planners are not allowed to sell a financial product or investment management service to their clients,” financial planner Safir Senduk told the Post over the phone on Wednesday.
The International Association of Registered Financial Consultants (IARFC) Indonesia has stressed that a financial advisor is prohibited from managing clients’ funds and trading stocks in their portfolios even with full discretion and consent from the clients.
“We have to be proactive so we are now establishing a task force to list those who are claiming to be a financial planner but are actually in violation of the code of ethics,” said IARFC Indonesia chairman and president Aidil Akbar Madjid said on Thursday.
“We hope the people who want to use financial planners’ services will be aware of which ones are licensed and which are not,” he said, adding that the profession was still self-regulated and yet to be regulated by the OJK.
The Jouska case shared a similarity with the investment mismanagement that led to a corruption case involving ailing state-owned insurer PT Asuransi Jiwasraya, as both had used other parties’ funds to invest in questionable stocks, said University of Indonesia (UI) capital markets expert Budi Frensidy on Thursday.
“[Jouska] case’s impact may be small on our stock market, but it can discourage new and potential equity investors from trying to invest,” he said.
He suggested investors choose reputable and licensed asset-management firms to help them manage their investments if they do not feel confident enough to manage their own funds.
Jouska’s clients shared on social media their portfolio details revealing that the company invested the majority of their funds in newly listed computer hardware-trading company, PT Sentral Mitra Informatika, trading on the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) under the code LUCK. Advisors at Jouska are also reported to have prevented clients from selling the shares when the prices had dropped more than 80 percent, an allegation that has neither been denied nor confirmed by the company.
Sentral Mitra, which was listed on the bourse on Nov. 29, 2018, saw its share price increase exponentially from Rp 285 (2 United States cents) to its highest level of Rp 2,020 apiece just around eight months after its IPO. Sentral Mitra’s share price has since dropped to near its IPO price, trading at Rp 322 on Friday.
Jouska previously claimed in a written statement that it always informed clients of all economic, industry and corporate analyses, including the risks in every financial decision. It also denied the claims that Jouska had full access to its clients’ securities accounts and had managed their funds.
“We are now building a credible and trusted capital market. [On that basis,] we call on people who want to invest in the capital market to always check out whether or not an advisor, investment manager or broker has a license,” the task force chairman, Tongam L. Tobing, said on Friday. (prm)