FCA warns on 94 unauthorised binary options traders

The Financial Conduct Authority has named and shamed just shy of 100 firms that are engaged in unauthorised binary option trading.

FCA cancels advice firm's permissions for register failure

On Friday, the UK financial services watchdog released a list of 94 companies, which it understands are offering binary options trading to UK consumers without proper authorisation.

The list has been compiled from information the regulator has received from consumers, partner agencies and from its own monitoring of the binary options market.

It is also peppered with firms that bear strikingly similar names but no relation to established industry players – Barclays Trading Invest, Ashford Investments and Nexus Capital Investments, to name a few.

On 3 January 2018, binary options became a regulated investment product, meaning that all firms trading these products in the UK must be authorised by the financial services watchdog.

Firms that continue trading without authorisation are “acting in breach of section 19 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA), which is a criminal offence”, the FCA reiterated in a statement.

The regulator confirmed it is in the process of examining each of the 94 firms to determine whether they are “genuinely operating from the UK”.

Although, many of the firms that appear on the register claim to be based in the UK, the FCA suspects that “most of the addresses they provide are false and that the firms are actually based overseas”.

For those firms that are based in Britain the regulator has stated it “will consider taking enforcement action through the courts” to halt illegal activity.

“Binary option consumers typically lose money, and these losses can be significant,” the regulator said. “Any consumers who trade with an unauthorised binary options firm will not have access to the the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme should things go wrong. Firms that are authorised to offer binary options to UK consumers are listed on the FCA’s register.”

The full list of unauthorised binary options providers can be accessed via the firm’s website.

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