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EUROPOL Binary Options Summit: Will sales staff be prosecuted?
EUROPOL Binary Options Summit: Will sales staff be prosecuted?

The EUROPOL Binary Options Summit was held this month. Officials from 20 countries met in the Netherlands to discuss “how to tackle fraudulent activities across the binary options industry.” Yet, did you know that EUROPOL could also prosecute former employees of the brokers?

24 January, AtoZForex Binary Options industry has been under the spotlight for some time now. While a number of regulators already have banned the promotion of Binary Options platforms across the regions, EUROPOL has also made its entrance. As the EUROPOL Binary Options Summit was held earlier this month, when numerous of officials met from European countries, FBI, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), and the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF).

Investors frequently end up losing tens of thousands of dollars or even more. The industry has been constantly growing globally for the past nine years. A big number of Binary Options brokerages are located in Israel. However, there are some also existing in Bulgaria, South Africa, Romania, and elsewhere. Fraudulent firms have been scamming traders with little intervention from the law enforcement so far. Following the series of warnings against various Binary Options firms, has EUROPOL decided to take measures against this industry?

What was the aim of the EUROPOL Binary Options Summit?

EUROPOL is the EU’s law enforcement agency, whose purpose is “to assist the 28 EU Member States in their fight against serious international crime and terrorism.” The summit reportedly was held about binary options topic, but no official press release was posted on the law enforcement’s website. Hence, I reached out to the authority and spoken to the press office of EUROPOL. They confirmed that the summit took place. Also, I have spoken to Mrs. Tine Hollevoet, a Senior specialist Corporate Communications at Europol, for the further clarification of the matter.

Kristina Frunze: “Can you confirm that the EUROPOL Binary Options Summit took place? If yes, what was the aim of the meeting?”

Tine Hollevoet: “I can confirm that there was a meeting on binary options. The aim of the meeting was to raise awareness about this phenomenon in Europe, to exchange experiences and best practices, and most importantly to try to establish an overview of the phenomenon in Europe. It was the first meeting we organized about this topic, and I’m sure more will follow in the future.”

Kristina Frunze: “When will EUROPOL meet with the other parties again to discuss the fate of Binary Options?”

Tine Hollevoet: “The first only took place 1,5 weeks ago, on 12 January. Some 20 EU Member States, American and Canadian authorities, regulators and private partners joined this meeting. I’m sure more will follow in the future, but I can not specify the date of a next meeting yet.

Kristina Frunze: “Do you have any additional comments?”

Tine Hollevoet: “It is important that victims report to the police. It is only this way that we will be able to get a better picture of the phenomenon. If we don’t know, we can’t act against it. This is a fraud that is destroying people and even families.”

Interview: Are Binary Options employees aware of EUROPOL individual probes?

Binary Options brokers are luring new employees by offering high bonuses. Hence, it is possible that sometimes the salesmen are crossing the line of being compliant. Regulators are able to issue a “desist and cease” order on a broker, but a law enforcement agency like EUROPOL can take it a step further. Meaning, EUROPOL can hold any individual responsible for a case. EUROPOL has the power to go through the entire record and prosecute the individuals involved.

Europol held the first summit about two weeks ago and they are planning on more. In case they will run a full-scale research, the investigation might involve people working in sales. Do newly hired employees of binary options brokers possess any knowledge in regards to this fact? In order to get a better understanding of this, I have reached to a former Banc De Binary (Cyprus) account manager for an interview, the person wishes to remain anonymous.

Kristina Frunze: “Did Banc de Binary informed you about the possibility that EUROPOL can prosecute you as an individual?”

Former Banc De Binary account manager: “No, definitely not and for sure nobody every told me this. I knew about Banc de Binary investigation before about the American case. But, I only receive news about recent license announcements days before the official release.”

Kristina Frunze: “Now that you know that a law enforcement can initiate a probe on individuals, are you worried after working at Banc de Binary?”

Former Banc De Binary account manager: “I consider myself safe, as I complied with all regulations of CySEC.”

Kristina Frunze: “What about your colleagues, do you think they are safe too?”

Former Banc De Binary account manager: “Nobody had the CySEC exam, as it was not mandatory at the time. Now, this will change soon in the market. Nevertheless, as far as I know everyone was mostly complaint. There were some red flags for a number of salespersons, but nothing serious. I think that the issues derived from Banc de Binary’s Israeli office, the Cyprus was operating fine.”

Israel is home to many binary options brokers

Following this remark, I did a research on the Israeli binary options market. It is true, the Binary Options industry emerged in its initial development stages in Israel back in 2008. This was after the US Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA) banned online gambling firms from receiving payments from US customers. The country is home to many binary options brokers, but last year the Israeli authorities have restricted Binary Options firms from soliciting to Israeli-based investors. Yet, the companies were still able to target the rest of the world. Currently, the regulator is trying to amend this rule.

In view of this, I find it strange that the ISA did not join the EUROPOL Binary Options Summit this month to discuss the case. It makes me wonder why? Nevertheless, according to EUROPOL, this was only the start and it could be that ISA officials will join the upcoming summit. Hence, EUROPOL has not announced any steps yet, in regards to investigations on individuals. However, the heat on the binary options industry has intensified. With the markets asking; “if the end of the binary options industry is near in sight?”

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