France’s financial markets regulators warned the French public of more investment websites that do not have authorization to operate within the country.
In 2021, the dual regulatory structure in France, which includes the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) and the Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution (ACPR), added 61 names to the list of sites that are not authorised to offer Forex investments. This was double the number from last year (30 in 2020), reflecting the increase in fraudulent offers and retail investor claim in this field, the regulators said.
In addition, the number of sites added in the crypto-asset derivatives category remained stable in 2021, at 24 compared to 25 in 2020.
The AMF and the ACPR are tackling unregulated providers of FX and crypto-assets derivatives. In a joint statement, the watchdogs published a list of 16 brokers that were inviting investors to invest in fiat and cryptocurrencies without authorization to carry out business in their jurisdiction.
The one-size-fits-all reasoning that the AMF gives is that these companies might be running scam operations, and so they have not received licenses to trade with French clients. These brokers have also been found guilty of making unsolicited calls and sending out similar emails to locals regarding online trading, financial consultation, and credit without gaining the necessary approvals.
The list of recently identified sites includes the following domain names:
The AMF said that the full list of unauthorized sites is available on the regulator’s website, and emphasized that these domains may change very quickly and that the list is not meant to be exhaustive.
Meanwhile, the recent warning shows that cryptocurrency business remains a significant source of fraud in Europe, and while many of these firms on the AMF’s blacklist claim to be based in France, most of the addresses provided are false, and the firms are actually based overseas.
AMF recommends that traders seeking to invest in France do so only with financial institutions authorized to do business in the country. Further, the AMF warns market participants that “any unauthorized intermediaries run the risk of criminal sanctions” and advises against responding to offers from any broker on the published lists.
Any financial intermediary offering or recommending investments must be on the list of financial institutions authorized to do business in France, as can be verified via www.regafi.fr. A list of authorized intermediaries in additional investor adviser categories can be accessed on orias.fr/search.
Earlier in November, publicly listed Polish FX brokerage XTB was hit with a €300,000 penalty to settle charges brought up by France’s regulator over a string of compliance breaches.