Breaking: AMF toughens its stance on advertising following public consultation

Maria Nikolova

May the climate for advertising of trading products in France worsen further? Yes, it may.

The French financial markets authority (AMF) continues to produce news which further develops its decisive approach regarding advertising of speculative trading products.

Today, the regulator published a communique clarifying its position on the changes stipulated in the “Sapin II” law, with the view providing even more bad news for the parties involved in advertising of speculative financial products.

The summary is simple – the regulator received feedback from 208 business entities, associations and individuals, as a part of its public consultation launched in August last year. The consultation aimed at gathering opinions that would help to create a general set of rules on how to apply the revised law.

“Sapin II”, putting it bluntly, prohibits advertising of contracts that are highly speculative and imply high risk. A previous statement from the AMF defined these instruments as CFDs with high leverage and binary options. The clarifying stance released today, however, makes a more general assumption on which trading instruments will fall under the scope of the law application.

What the AMF says is that “the document will apply to the following instruments:

  • binary options

  • CFDs (contracts for difference);

  • Financial contracts on currencies.”

In addition, the AMF notes that all participants of the publicity chain that promotes these instruments will be affected: ranging from those who disseminate the ads to those who host illegal websites.

It seems that what the AMF is doing is defending a broader interpretation of what the law states. It is important to note, however, that the way that the AMF interprets the law does not mean that this is its single interpretation. Nor does this mean that the law is changed to cover more instruments. A court may disagree with the AMF’s treatment of the law.

What today’s AMF statement means is that the stringent approach of the regulator is getting more stringent thanks to the lack of specification in the law itself.

The French financial markets’ authority has been regularly updating its blacklists of unauthorized FX and binary options brokers, without any major effect thus far. According to a study amid 14,799 French traders published in October 2014, their losses amounted to EUR 175 million during the 4-year period between 2009 and 2012.

The French regulator is determined to co-operate with the legal authorities to have illegal websites blocked.

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