France’s AMF imposes EUR 10m in fines in 2016

Maria Nikolova

AMF’s Chairman insists that the lower amount of fines does not mean that the regulator has become less harsh.

Over the past several months, France has made the headlines when it comes to strict regulation of the online trading industry. In August last year, the French financial markets regulator AMF opened a public consultation regarding advertising of high-risk financial products like binary options. The proposed ban on all types of advertising of such products was subsequently included in the Sapin 2 law.

One would think that such decisive actions when it comes to legislation would result in a rigorous approach to sanctions, especially monetary penalties. Not quite so.

In an interview for French newspaper “Les Echos”, Gerard Rameix, Chairman of AMF, says the total amount of fines imposed by the regulator in 2016 reached humble EUR 10 million. The amount is less than half the total of EUR 21.3 million for 2015.

Mr Rameix, however, insists that the lower amount of monetary penalties for last year does not mean that the regulator has become less strict. He adds that in 2017 the sanctions will be more considerable.

For what is worth, we should note that the total for 2015 was boosted by a one-off fine of EUR 10 million, so it is normal that the comparison is tilted in favor of 2015. The annual report for 2015 shows that the AMF Investor Information Team (Epargne Info Service), which assists and informs individuals and professionals, handled 14,424 requests, up 19% from 2014. Individual investors accounted for 75% of the requests. About 82% of the complaints had to do with sites promoting foreign exchange market or binary option investments.

There is nothing astonishing then that the French regulator made such a decisive step regarding curbing binary options and other high-risk financial products’ advertising. In the interview for “Les Echos”, Mr Rameix adds that the AMF is completing the consultations on the control mechanisms to be implemented under the Sapin 2 law.

Following the news that the new law was banning all sorts of partnerships concerning the advertising of such products, a number of French football clubs dropped their partnerships with binary options brands. The list of teams to have done so includes PSG, Olympique lyonnais and OGC Nice.

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