The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) today said it has obtained interim orders from the Federal Court in Sydney freezing the assets of representatives of FX broker Union Standard International Group Pty Ltd (USGFX).
In addition to the freezing orders, which the regulator says it meant to protect customers. At the same time, an investigation is underway, ASIC revealed that its ‘asset restraint orders’ against USGFX itself were vacated by the court on December 17. The Australian FX brand, however, committed to the court to keep nearly AU$235,000 in a separate bank account.
The ASIC’s orders against USGFX’s representatives aren’t restraining them from dealing with monies received from investors, or carrying on a financial services business. The interim orders are in place until February 17, 2020, when the matter is next in Court.
“ASIC’s investigation is ongoing. There have been no findings of contraventions of the Corporations Act against any party,” the watchdog said.
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Finance Magnates reached out to USGFX, and a company spokesman said that ASIC’s media release fails to mention a number of key matters, including that on December 17, the Federal Court dismissed, effectively in full, the application as against USGFX. In doing so, the company statement further states that the court was highly critical of ASIC’s application against USGFX, which was not substantiated by the evidence provided to the judge.
In addition, the media release notes that “the Court also imposed orders restricting the overseas travel of John Carlton Martin…. This statement is misleading and suggests that Mr Martin, a Director of USGFX is not allowed to travel abroad. This is an incorrect statement and despite ASIC’s attempts to restrict his travel, Mr Martin had been permitted to travel overseas. ASIC had been advised as to the inaccuracies included in its media release and USGFX has put ASIC on notice that it may bring proceedings against it for damages arising from its conduct in this matter.”
ASIC preparing to flex its new regulatory muscles
Opened its doors for business more than a decade back, USGFx is one of the oldest foreign exchange brokers in the Pacific Rim. The company has it headquarters in Sydney, but with branches in Auckland, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
The Australian financial watchdog has recently kicked off its largest swipe against the sale of risky investments to retail investors, but industry players are claiming that they already operate in compliance with most of these restrictions.
The corporate regulator has been preparing to flex its new regulatory muscles after a recent review found in 2018 alone 80 percent of binary traders and 72 percent of clients who traded CFDs lost money. Retail traders lost nearly $490 million and $1.5 billion a year in trading binary options and CFDs, respectively, according to ASIC data.