France’s black list of binary options firms grows despite new ESMA rules

Maria Nikolova

Nearly three months after the new EU rules that ban binary options offering to retail investors came into effect, France’s regulator continues to detect such entities.

Almost three months have passed since the new EU rules that prohibit binary options offering to retail clients came into effect. ESMA has even determined to prolong the ban for further three months amid continued risks posed by this type of instruments.

Unfortunately, even the strictest measures adopted by the pan-European regulator seem to be ineffective when it comes to such persistent scams. Earlier today, France’s Financial Markets Authority (AMF) published an updated list of binary options brokers that unlawfully target French investors. The conclusion is that binary options scams continue to proliferate in the face of any official restrictions.

Of course, it is worth noting that the number of new additions is relatively small. There are three of them:

  • binarycent.com
  • patrimoinegestion-management.com
  • pocketoption.com

However, the fact that these entities dare to engage in prohibited activities is an indicator of the gravity of fraud that EU regulators have to deal with.

Over a three-year period (since 2014), the French regulator has secured the blocking of 138 fraudulent websites operated by online trading firms.

The efforts to block the websites are on top of the warnings issued to investors and the black lists which are regularly updated. AMF estimates the black lists of unauthorized Forex and binary options firms now surpass 440 entries.

To secure the blocking of the websites, the regulator has to turn to the High Court of Paris, with meetings held every two months (on average). In 2017, seven such meetings were held, resulting in the issuance of 25 orders by the Court that led to the closure of 52 web addresses of fraudulent brokers.

In the meantime, France has registered a significant increase in the volume of ads related to purchase and selling of crypto-assets (and/or cryptocurrencies), according to data provided in a recent Newsletter of the Households Savings Observatory, run by the French financial markets authority AMF.

The data shows that, during the period from January to April 2018, the advertisements of crypto-assets gained market share among ads of investment services and products. The ads of crypto-assets accounted for 23% of all ads of investment products and services during the period in question.

They only lag behind ads dedicated to speculative trading, that is online trading of products like FX. The latter accounted for 26% of all investment ads in the first four months of 2018.

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