A little too late: Belgium’s FSMA addresses clients of Banc de Binary

Maria Nikolova

A month after the renouncement of Banc de Binary’s license in Cyprus got into effect, the Belgian regulator decided to inform investors that they have to contact what is now a defunct company.

Whereas the fight against binary options fraud gathers speed in some jurisdictions, forcing illegally operating entities to cut and run, elsewhere the clumsiness and reluctance of certain regulatory bodies is apparent.

Belgium is an interesting case. In August last year, following proposed regulatory changes by the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA), Belgium outlawed certain high-risk derivatives and binary options. The Belgian financial regulator had been warning against binary options brokers long before that but the August 2016 changes marked a decisive move on part of the nation’s authorities.

That is why FSMA’s announcement dated February 15, 2017 has struck us a bit – the regulator informs the public that Banc de Binary has renounced its license in Cyprus. This happens a whole month after the renouncement took effect. So much for good timing.

The FSMA advises clients of the broker to contact it “as soon as possible”, which is a bit ironic, given the delay the Belgian regulator afforded to itself to inform clients of the broker about what happened. In terms of contacts, the Belgian regulator provides the postal address of Banc de Binary in St. Vincent & Grenadines, instead of the address in Cyprus (sic!). How responsive the broker will be is uncertain, given that the link to file a withdrawal request on eu.bancdebinary.com is redirecting to the front page, that is, it is of no use.

The announcement by the Belgian regulator is almost identical to that published by France’s financial markets regulator AMF about two weeks earlier. The French regulator also urged investors to contact the broker via mail and demand return of funds. That announcement was also a little too late.

The announcements by FSMA and AMF underline loopholes in binary options oversight and indicate that there is much more to demand regarding international co-operation between regulators.

Of course, let’s not forget that regulators have limited powers when it comes to stopping binary options fraud, as Italy’s CONSOB reiterated recently. EUROPOL’s involvement in the fight is set to mark some progress in this respect, as the agency may prosecute employees of binary options firms, including sales guys who use aggressive techniques to solicit money from investors.

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