By Tony Hetherington, Financial Mail on Sunday. Then I had a health scare and my doctor advised me to slow down.
TONY HETHERINGTON: Returns of £2k a week? Stay well clear of binary options firms | This is Money
Oliver Martins from NRG then asked for more money. There is no British company called NRGbinary but it is operated by an offshore company. I complained and NRG returned it.
I could not trust the company though, so I asked for the rest of my money. NRG did nothing and I found that after I had asked for the withdrawal, more than half my money had been lost. Now NRG just ignores me and it still has my money. Even finding out for certain who you have been dealing with has proved almost impossible.
There is a close link to a London company that is itself breaking the law, but there is no British company called NRGbinary and various options trading websites name three different businesses as being behind NRG. One mention says it is operated by an offshore company called NRG Capital Cyprus Limited.
However, the financial watchdog on the island has not licensed it and has actually issued a public warning against it. Paperwork you were sent shows that NRG is run by Alfa Media Group Limited.
NRG is not part of any similarly named British company, but its website did say until quite recently that it was operated by MHGG Tech Solutions Limited.
The website has now been altered slightly to say that MHGG collects payments from investors — but close ties clearly remain. And this is bad news. MHGG is not really at the address it gives in north-west London. Offices there belong to a business centre that accepts mail for anyone who pays.
More seriously, MHGG was set up only on July 2 last year and on July 3 its sole director quit. His resignation was not even notified to Companies House until a month or so ago. Anyone sending money to MHGG over the past nine months would have been unaware that it had no director, which is illegal, and that it was not at its registered address.
Companies House told me on Thursday: This goes beyond simple advertising hype. It is lies, and that makes it a criminal offence under the Fraud Act. Meanwhile, nobody should touch NRGbinary, not even with a bargepole dipped in disinfectant. Watchdogs have got themselves into a fine mess over binary options, leaving investors with no protection. The Financial Conduct Authority decided that binary options are a bet, not an investment. You can gamble that an index, a share or a commodity will move up or down in seconds.
In the time it takes to spin a coin, you can win back your money plus a percentage — or lose the lot. Other European watchdogs disagree. The FCA says binary options are regulated by the Gambling Commission, but this watchdog is not interested.
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Some British investment firms now offer binary options trading, among them legitimate firms that have been vetted and approved by the FCA for other products.
But how is the ordinary investor to know the difference? ETX Binary, owned by Monecor London Limited, is a genuine City company fully licensed by the FCA. This should mean that the FCA regulates it and if necessary, investors would have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service and Financial Services Compensation Scheme. But the Gambling Commission said it had never heard of ETX or Monecor and the ETX website says it is regulated by the FCA.
Neither watchdog is interested, so investor protection falls down the chasm between them.
All this may change, though. ETX itself told me it has been arguing with the FCA that it really should be regulating binary options.
And the Government has now stepped in, apparently on orders from the European Commission. Britain has been told to fall in line with other EU countries and the Treasury now says it has changed its mind: So the mess continues. The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. Boss of Anglian Water is crowned best CEO by staff - does your leader make the top 50 list?
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