Binary options is a highly speculative form of trading, which experts and regulators have likened to gambling.
-Reclaws International (Reclaws.com)
Binary options is a highly speculative form of trading, which experts and regulators have likened to gambling. And many unlicensed operations are just out-and-out scams. One website, Binary Tilt, has been subject of warnings from regulators in South Africa, Canada, the United Kingdom and Japan. In September last year, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) warned Binary Tilt, "could be involved in a scam" and advised potential clients not to deal with the company. Western Australian project manager David Steele said he first started trading with Binary Tilt in 2016. He was initially wary of the business and insisted on meeting the brokers face to face in Singapore.
"We met them at a hotel in Singapore, I suppose our intent was to trip them up a bit, but at no stage did something jump out at us to say, 'Hang on we're not too sure about these guys'," he said.
Mr Steele first became suspicious when he tried to withdraw $50,000, which he needed to put a deposit on his daughter's first home. He said he felt scammed. "It was absolutely frustrating, they made that commitment that the money would be paid as promised, and within the week or two weeks nothing happened, all you did was get fobbed off all the time," he said. At the time when he was depositing money with Binary Tilt, Mr Steele's bank Westpac allowed him to transfer his money despite flagging the account as potentially fraudulent. "I made a deposit through Westpac and initially they came back that it has been flagged as a potentially fraudulent account and referred us to the international fraud division," he said. In a statement, Westpac said it could not go into the specifics of this case due to customer confidentiality, but said it did alert Mr Steele to a potential scam. "However the customer decided to pursue the transaction," a spokeswoman said. Westpac said the payee was not listed on ASIC's scam watch list at the time this payment was made. However, ASIC records show it was recorded as an unlicensed operator in a media release nine months before the transaction took place. The ABC's attempts to track down the current owners of Binary Tilt hit dead ends. The parent company of Binary Tilt, Chemmi Holdings, lists one shareholder — a company called Depix Holdings, based in the small Caribbean nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, a country widely recognised as a tax haven and secrecy jurisdiction. The ABC called Depix Holding's service provider in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which said they were unable to release the ownership details. However, Perth couple Tamica Sharon Payne and Louis Guy Detata, have both previously appeared on paperwork at different times as being in control of Binary Tilt. Ms Payne and Mr Detata both share the same address in Perth. Both deny being involved with the company in the period in which complaints were made and regulators issued warnings. Mr Detata, a 40-year-old former financial adviser with Morgan Stanley, registered the Binary Tilt website in August 2013 and said he continued to own the business until March 2015, when he disposed of it. He said it was registered as a financial services provider in New Zealand, while he was in charge of the company. Four days after Mr Detata said he left the company, the Canadian Securities Administrators raised the alarm about Binary Tilt, and advised Canadians to steer clear because it was unlicensed in Canada. Mr Detata, through his lawyer, said that in the time he owned the company, he made all efforts not to trade in unlicensed countries, and people detected trading from those countries had their accounts frozen and original deposit refunded. A fact which he said may account for any complaints. The following year, 2016, according to corporate documents filed with the United Kingdom's business register, 37-year-old Tamica Sharon Payne was listed as a "person with significant control" of Chemmi Holdings — a term which meant she was able to hire or fire directors. Ms Payne remained in control of the company, at least on paper, until October 2017. Ms Payne, through her lawyer, said she should not have been registered as having significant control over the company. She said the UK parent company was created in order to transfer Binary Tilt to new owners and her name was recorded in error. She said she had previously written to UK authorities asking for the record.
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