The FCA has acted to stop a Cypriot-based firm, BDSwiss Holding Plc, and other members of the BDSwiss Group from offering high risk contracts for differences (CFDs) to UK investors. The BDSwiss Group trades using the brands BDSwiss, Swissmarkets and BDS Trading.
The BDSwiss Group took the the fact that one of its firms was regulated in the UK to convey legitimacy on the group as a whole. However, 99% of UK consumers taken on by the group traded through the group’s overseas entities. These overseas firms had no authorisation to provide regulated services in the UK, and consumers who traded with the overseas firms lost the protections given to consumers who trade with an authorised firm. In particular, the overseas firms did not comply with the FCA’s restrictions on the marketing and sale of CFDs to retail consumers.
Sarah Pritchard, Executive Director, Markets at the FCA said:
'This group was selling high risk investments to UK investors in breach of our perimeter and the rules for CFDs we have put in place to protect retail investors.
'Many investors were attracted to the firm via social media accounts. Consumers should be very wary of those on social media making promises which look too good to be true and be careful where they invest their money. We have acted where we can but once again repeat our call for restrictions on this type of advertising to be included in the Online Safety Bill.'
The FCA identified serious concerns with the sales and marketing practices of the BDSwiss Group, including the use of misleading financial promotions which made unrealistic claims about the likely returns, failed to state clearly the nature of the financial instruments being marketed and failed to outline the risks involved in trading CFDs. The Group and its affiliates frequently contacted consumers directly, using social media platforms to make contact and market their products.
As a result of the activities of the BDSwiss Group and these affiliates, numerous UK consumers have lost significant sums of money.