Belgium’s financial watchdog, the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA), collected more in penalties and payments in 2019, even as total enforcement actions fell slightly below the prior six-year average.
The FSMA obtained monetary relief of nearly €2.25 million from 13 enforcement actions in the year ended December 31. The bulk of the fines came from disgorgement and restitution related to insider trading and similar manipulative conduct. The 2019 tally included the regulator’s second-highest number of cases against insiders for any year, after 2018, when it totaled seven cases out of 13 across all European countries.
FSMA operates as a watchdog for financial trading, securities, and markets in Belgium, overseeing a variety of assets and compliance issues for traders and consumers.
Total activity since 2013 saw a flurry of enforcement actions with the regulator filing 73 administrative sanctions and collected more than €18 million in fines. The agency also managed to catch up in the last few months, bringing standalone actions against cryptocurrency operators.
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FSMA turns eyes to crypto firms
This represents the FSMA’s latest effort to police the rampant internet-based cryptocurrency schemes, which operate into a zone that the watchdog regulates.
To get the protections offered by securities laws when trading digital assets, investors should use a platform or entity registered with the FSMA, the regulator said.
Recently, the FSMA said it had received numerous complaints about cryptocurrency platforms as many of their clients didn’t recover the funds they invested, or simply have heard nothing further from the company after investing their money.
The regulator has recently exposed the unauthorized activities of a Belgian crypto trading company called Abesix Belgique. A report published by Belgian business newspaper De Tijd claimed last month that Abesix was co-founded by Bernard Arnault, the owner of Louis Vuitton and the world’s third-richest man. It also mentioned that Emmanuel Wouters, a young entrepreneur from Brussels, was also connected to the development of Abesix.
However, the deed of incorporation of Abesix proves to be false, as it turns out that Arnault is neither a founder nor a partner of Abesix.