Bitcoin Site and its Owner Faces Legal Trouble

BitcoinBTC-e, one of the oldest digital currency exchanges, remained offline on Thursday, July 27, 2017 after law enforcement officials alleged criminal acts by its owner, Alexander Vinnik.  On Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced a $110 million fine against BTC-e for facilitating crimes such as identity theft, ransomware fraud and public corruption, among other crimes, through its digital network.  An additional $12 million fine was imposed against Russian-born Vinnik.  Vinnik was arrested in Greece on Tuesday and the indictment was unsealed in California on Wednesday.

BTC-e was used by criminals who stole or extorted Bitcoin from the victims and converted the into traditional currency using U.S. dollar and Russian ruble-based bank accounts registered to shell companies.  The exchange is accused of laundering more than $4 billion for criminals.  Vinnik’s arrest followed the arrests in Europe and the U.S. of two large drug markets that used Bitcoin as their primary currency.

The indictment also revealed that hundreds of thousands of Bitcoins moved from Tokyo-based Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox that were controlled by Mr. Vinnik.  MT. Gox declared bankruptcy in 2014 after being hacked and losing more than 800,000 Bitcoins, some of which were laer recovered.  300,000 of the missing Bitcoins were moved from Mt. Gox to a different Bitcoin exchange and converted to traditional currencies that were deposited into Mr. Vinnik’s bank accounts.  According to the New York Times, these Bitcoins would be worth approximately $800 million today.

The agencies also allege that BTC-e ignored he ‘know your customer’ (YC) laws in order to serve a criminal customer base.

The arrest and fines imposed this week should serve as a reminder that even though the digital currency market continues to heat up, sometimes that heat is a hint towards an underlying explosion – as with all trading, make sure to understand your risks before getting started and to use a recommended broker for all Bitcoin trading.

UFX Partners with Andres Iniesta

Iniesta Joins UFXUFX.com, a leading Forex broker regulated by MiFID and IFSC in Belize, announced today its partnership with football superstar Andres Iniesta, who has signed on to become the latest brand ambassador.  Iniesta has been playing with FC Barcelona since 1996, where he captained their Under-15 team.  He currently the captain of the team’s Spanish Club and Spanish National Team as well as a valued player in central midfield.

Iniesta is widely considered one of the most respected Spanish football players in history, as well as one of the best midfielders of all time.  He scred Spain’s winning goal in the 2010 World Cup and earned the title “Man of the Match.”  Iniesta has earned an astounding 33 trophies to-date and is honored to have signed a 2-year contract with UFX.com, with an option to extend to a 3rd year.  He is viewed by the broker as an important part of their online marketing campaign, the goal of which is to reach a wider global audience.  Iniesta joins Mike Tindall, MBE, the brand’s UK ambassador and a rugby legend.

Dennis de Jong, Managing Director of UFX.com, said: “UFX is proud to announce our association with Andrés Iniesta. With our shared commitment to excellence and UFX’s devotion to our traders, I’m certain our new alliance with Andrés Iniesta will help take us all to the next level of success.”

Traders can get started with UFX for a minimum deposit of only $100 and can enjoy trading currencies, commodities, CFDs and dozens of other assets.

Introducing the FX Global Code of Conduct

The Forex industry has long been plagued with complaints of improprieties on behalf of brokers, despite the heightened regulation and increasing number of watchdogs whose goal is to supervise brokers and to make sure that they act within accepted legal and ethical guidelines.  To protect Forex traders and to keep brokers on the straight and narrow, the FX Global Code of Conduct was launched in May 2016 as a precursor to the document that was released earlier this month by the Bank of International Settlements.

The code is designed to create a fair, liquid, open and transparent market where traders are protected and supported by a solid industry infrastructure.  The Global Code was developed by a partnership between central banks and Market Participants from 16 jurisdictions worldwide.  Among the guiding principles are:

  • Market Participants are expected to behave in an ethical and professional manner to promote the fairness and integrity of the FXM Market.
  • Market Participants are expected to promote responsible engagement in the FX Market and to have an effective governance framework to provide for comprehensive oversite of their activity.
  • Market Participants will comply with laws and regulations applicable to them in the jurisdiction in which they do business.

As it stands, the Global Code is meant to include Market Participants which are outlined as all persons or organizations engaged in the Forex market including, but not limited to organizations such as financial institutions, central banks, asset managers including sovereign wealth funds and hedge funds, non-bank liquidity providers, brokers, trading platforms, money changes and money services.  The Global Code confirms that all Market Participants will act in an ethical way and to be aware of potential conflicts that will need to be resolved with professionalism and care.

The initiative is a good one – there is certainly room for additional oversight and a commitment to moral activity within the Forex industry.  However, we question whether the initiative will be successful on the global level as there may always be brokers who are likely to engage in unscrupulous behavior in an effort to dupe innocent traders out of their money.  For this reason, we suggest that in addition to engaging a code of conduct for Market Participants, it is also critical for traders to know their rights and to understand that such a Global Code exists, so that they insist upon choosing a broker or other financial service provider that will maintain the highest standards of ethical and professional integrity.  Only with proper education on the traders’ side and honorable intentions on the side of Market Participants, will we be able to make strides against Forex fraud.

FXTM Sponsors Rookie IndyCar Driver Ed Jones

Indy500Leading global Forex broker FXTM has announced its sponsorship of Rookie IndyCar driver Ed Jones, a partnership which comes right after the company partnered with Sahara Force India, an F1 team.  FXTM’s partnership with these leading brands gives the company a prominent role in two-thirds of the most iconic motorsport events of the season.

FXTM’s motorsports partnerships serve a dual purpose; they testify to the company’s continued success in becoming a recognized global brokerage, and they attest to the qualities that FXTM wants to be known for in the financial world.  Specifically, said Martin Lamming, FXTM’s Global Head of Marketing, success in motorsports requires “dedication, innovation and a commitment to learning.”  It is exactly these three attributes that Lamming believes have lead to FXTM’s recent success as well.

Added Lamming: “Ed is a phenomenal young driver.  He has displayed a dedication to his sport that has seen him successfully climb the ranks of lower series to earn a place on the grid of the iconic Indy 500. As an ambitious brand driven by a commitment to excellence in trading, learning and innovation, FXTM are proud to be sponsoring him for the landmark race of his career so far.”

We look forward to hearing about Jones’s continued success and, of course, about FXTM’s continued achievements as well.

AvaTrade Introduces More Digital Currency Trading

Digital CurrencyAvaTrade, a widely-respected global Forex broker headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, announced this week that it has added trading of three digital currencies to its already wide range of tradeable assets.  The assets are Ethereum, Dash and Ripple.  These currencies have shown a 1,000-4,000% increase in the past year, as has Bitcoin, the most famous digital currency, which AvaTrade also offers.

Digital currency trading is becoming more popular across the globe, though traders are advised to learn about the opportunities and risks before trading.  AvaTrade joins a list of very few Forex brokers which provide these offerings.  eToro is another broker that offers similar opportunities, though the primary difference between the brokers is that AvaTrade is primarily focused on individual trading while eToro’s trading platform is focused on social trading.

Learn more about AvaTrade in our comprehensive AvaTrade review to see if this broker is right for you, and make sure to practice trading digital currencies on a deme before moving to a live account so that you can get a sense for how they fluctuate.

Changes to Turkish Forex Regulation – What Do They Mean?

In recent months the Capital Markets Board of Turkey, the Turkish regulator implemented dramatic changes on the way the industry functions. Among the changes were the new requirement for a minimum deposit of TRY 50,000 for any Forex trading account, and a maximum leverage of only 1:10, lower than even The United States’ NFA imposes. The Turkish Capital Markets Association has tried to ease these restrictions but has thus far been unsuccessful in reversing these unquestionably harsh restrictions.

Traders and Forex brokerages are concerned that the restrictions will cause lower trading volume and liquidity which will force traders to pay higher spreads and will thus perpetuate a spiral of lower trading volumes or will cause Turkish Forex traders to pursue trading offshore trading opportunities, which at this point have not yet been thwarted by Turkish regulators (and the question remains as to whether Turkish regulators will be able to control offshore trading activities for its nationals due to the open nature of the global currency markets).

There have been several Turkish Forex brokers who have paused their business activities in response to the regulatory changes, and other who have closed their doors entirely. But interestingly, there have also been several new, unregulated brokers located outside of Turkey’s physical borders that have begun recruiting Turkish Forex traders. Whether or not the Capital Markets Board will come after these brokers remains to be seen, but there’s no question that the shift in the industry has been significant. We will continue to monitor the situation and to report on the newest regulatory changes as they become relevant. We will also continue to monitor the activities of Turkish Forex brokers and to honestly review the remaining brokers that can accept Turkish traders. If you’re interested in trading Forex in Turkey don’t let the regulators scare you – just make sure that you know how the market functions before you get started.

HYCM Granted CySEC Regulation

HYCM, an FCA-regulated Forex broker has been granted CySEC licensing and regulation, expanding the company’s reach throughout Europe. The brokerage also has strong operations in the UK, Hong Kong, Cyprus and Dubai.

hycm

Stavros Lambrouris, the CEO of HYCM Europe, said about the achievement that “The CySEC authorisation marks a milestone in our history as part of our plans to expand our global operations. We now have a gateway to the European market, affirming our commitment to our European clients whilst rubber-stamping the company’s position as a global leader.”

Formerly known as HY Markets, HYCM is part of the Henyep Capital Markets Group. The brokerage offers a range of services for traders and has headquarters in the United Kingdom, Dubai and Kuwait. The company’s proprietary Prime Trader platform offers guaranteed stop losses, integrated pricing, trade screens and technical charts that are designed to provide a comprehensive trading experience for intermediate and advanced traders.

HYCM also offers its traders access to the popular MetaTrader 4 platform for both desktop and mobile traders.