Vantage Markets a scam or not ?
Vantage Markets is an offshore broker who recently gained a lot of popularity amongst EU countries and who appears to be unreliable and even dangerous for financial investments. Fintelegram(1) reported it as an elaborate broker scheme that can cause significant financial losses to the impacted individuals. Large amounts of people are visiting Vantagemarkets.com(2) every day, and among the top 10 countries impacted by the broker’s soliciting practices are EU Countries like France, Italy, and the Netherland.
1. What does it mean solicitation in EU and is it legal?
The EU has implemented an integrated financial market regulated by the MiFID II and other implementing directives and regulations.
Generally, only EU based investment firms are allowed to provide financial services on the EU territory. Third country investment firms are not allowed to solicit, promote, advertise, and provide financial services to EU clients.
According to the EU financial regulator, ESMA, in its Questions and Answers on MiFID II and MiFIR investor protection and intermediaries topics,(3) solicitation, promotion or advertising in the Union includes every communication means used such as press releases, advertising on internet, brochures, phone calls or face-to-face meetings”
Based on this definition, any offshore broker who can be found on numerous EU websites promoting its services, including through links connecting the user to the offshore website, is actively solicitating and promoting its services in EU.
2. Is Vantage Markets illegally soliciting EU clients?
According to the website, Vantage Markets is licenced by the financial authorities in the UK, Australia, Vanuatu, South Africa, and Cayman Islands (2) but is not authorised by any EU jurisdiction. However, based on the latest Similarweb statistics(4), about 40% of Vantage Markets’ website visitors come from EU countries such as Italy and France.
Moreover, we came across on several English, French and Dutch language websites visited by EU audience. These websites (e.g. brokerchooser.com(6), tradingenligne.fr(7), techopedia.com(8) and many others) promote the services of Vantage Markets, and publish links to the brokers’ offshore platform. By clicking on the link, the user is redirected to the brokers’ offshore website and allowed to open an account with the offshore entity. Most likely Vantage Markets remunerates or offers a percentage of the deposit to these advertisement sites for every new onboarded EU client on their offshore trading platform.
Therefore, it may be presumed that the broker actively promotes its services in EU and accepts clients from EU jurisdictions even though Vantage Markets doesn’t have the needed authorisation.
Furthermore, Vantage Markets offers leverage of 1:500 for retail clients in breach of the EU regulatory regimes where a maximum leverage of 1:30 is allowed for retail clients(5).
To summarize, it might be asserted that Vantage Markets violates the regulatory requirements in most EU jurisdictions and hence offers significantly less protection to EU retail clients.
3. What is the position of the EU regulatory authorities?
Recently two EU Financial Regulators, The Italian CONSOB(9) (Commissione Nazionale per le Societa e la Borsa) blacklisted the website vantagemarkets.com as not authorised to provide investment services in the country. In the section “Watch for Scams! Abusive financial services: Consob blacks out 4 abusive websites” CONSOB reported Vantage Global Limited (websites www.vantagefx.com, www.vantagemarkets.com and related page https://secure.vantagemarkets.com).
The Spanish CNMV(10) (National Securities Market Commission) reported also Vantage Markets.
We may suppose that the CONSOB received evidence of solicitation and promotion in Italy of Vantage Markets services and assessed they are in breach of MIFID II rules.
In conclusion, we do not recommend to EU clients to open accounts with Vantage Markets as said broker does not comply with EU protective rules for retail investors.
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