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Fintech firm Achiko hits Cayman-related compliance problems

Achiko says its Cayman issues only came to light after listing in Switzerland. Keystone / Georgios Kefalas

Cayman Islands fintech company Achiko has run into “compliance issues” just months after listing on the Swiss stock exchange. The firm has called a meeting of shareholders this week to approve a plan to create a Swiss company and re-list the shares from this entity.

But some shareholders are upset that they will not be able to cast their votes the annual general meeting, called for June 18 in Zurich, because they have not yet received their shares more than six months after the listing.

Achiko is a holding company that includes Indonesian digital payments firm Mimopay and Korean digital media company Kryptonite in its portfolio. Shortly after its Swiss direct listing last year, Achiko teamed up with Hypothekarbank Lenzburg to begin building a digital financial services platform and entered into a partnership with the Swiss fintech firm Sonect, a company that creates digital ATMs in shops.

“Achiko wants to reduce friction resulting from the current domicile of the company in the Cayman Islands, as trading may have been inhibited by compliance issues,” the company informed investors as it called its AGM.

CEO Kenneth Ting said that regulatory issues related to Achiko’s Cayman incorporation had materialised after the company’s Swiss listing, hindering the transfer and trading of shares. The European Union added the Cayman Islands to its blacklist of non-cooperative tax havens in February.

“There were solid business reasons to incorporate in the Cayman Islands. Achiko is a legally compliant and ethical organisation,” said Ting. “But regulatory red flags have been raised because there have been too many tax avoidance cases associated with Cayman.”

“Some people don’t look past that and put you in the same bracket as everyone else.”

Ting said that around 75% of Achiko shares had found their way to investors. Trading in shares has been limited, according to data from SIX Group, which runs the Swiss stock exchange. The price of shares initially spiked from CHF0.70 ($0.74) to CHF2 but have since dropped to around CHF0.25.

Ting confirmed that only people registered on the company’s share ledger would be eligible to vote on the proposal to shift incorporation to Switzerland.

“If people are unhappy at not yet receiving their shares, they should fill out their paperwork for KYC [Know Your Customer anti-money laundering regulatory requirements] or nominating a custodian to which shares to be delivered,” said Ting.

Achiko was formed in 2018 by Ting and businessman Steven Goh, who previously founded the digital media company Migme that was listed in Australia before going into administration.

One Achiko investor, who did not wish to be named, said an earlier investment in Migme had been rolled over into Achiko. This statement is supported by documents from Migme’s administrator, as reviewed by swissinfo.ch. But the investor says he has not yet received his Achiko shares despite submitting the paperwork.

Goh is standing for re-election to the board of directors at Achiko’s AGM and has been nominated as chairman and sole member of the company’s nomination and remuneration committee.

According to its annual report, Achiko made a $6.92 million (CHF6.58 million) loss in 2019. Operating expenses increased by 72% to $6.58m due to increased salary costs and “significant restructuring and administrative costs related to the stock market listing”.

The company says it has ambitions to raise its profile in Switzerland and reach a potential audience of two billion people in Asia and India with payments, consumer credit, savings, loans, e-commerce, gaming, community and chat services.

SIX Group declined to comment on Achiko.

Full story here
Matthew Allen
When not covering banks, tax disputes, trade, Brexit, the World Economic Forum and FIFA, swissinfo.ch's business correspondent can be found playing cricket on various grounds in Switzerland - including the frozen lake of St Moritz. Initials: mga
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