LeapRate Exclusive… LeapRate has received a copy of the letter being circulated by FXCM Inc (NYSE:FXCM) to its clients having negative client balances in their accounts, following large losses by many clients last Thursday on Swiss Franc CHF pairs trading.
The losses left certain FXCM clients with an aggregate of about $225 million of negative equity in their accounts – and left FXCM with a major hole in its regulatory capital requirements, leading to a $300 million bailout of FXCM by Leucadia National Corp (NYSE:LUK).
Interestingly, FXCM tells its clients in the letter that if they hold more than one account with FXCM, any funds from accounts with positive balances will be used to cover the negative balances in another account.
FXCM’s rationale for asking for repayment? The SNB’s surprise move removing the EURCHF 1.20 floor and what followed was a ‘force majeure event’. Force Majeure events usually refer to war, strike, riot, crime, or events described by the legal term ‘Act of God’ such as a natural disaster, or other unforeseeable circumstances.
How a spike in a currency pair accompanied by a temporary loss of liquidity in that pair could be viewed as a ‘Force Majeure’ event – by a Forex broker! – is beyond us.
As we wrote yesterday, we believe that FXCM clients have a legitimate claim to refuse to repay negative balances (or even to have FXCM ‘merge’ their accounts), due to FXCM’s clearly stated policy “not to pursue claims for negative equity against our customers.” Clients with negative equity balances, if approached by FXCM, could simply state that they relied on FXCM’s policy and that they therefore reasonably expected that their losses could never exceed the amount of money they had on deposit.
The text of the letter follows below.
IMPORTANT NEWS REGARDING YOUR FXCM TRADING ACCOUNTS
Please be advised that in order to offset negative balances you currently hold in your FXCM account(s), FXCM has transferred funds from your account(s) with a positive balance. The terms of your master trading agreement entered into with FXCM, available online, provide FXCM with these rights.
If after this transfer you still maintain a negative balance on your account, you are requested to remit funds immediately. FXCM accepts deposits by, debit card, bank wire and ACH electronic check. All options can be accessed via our www.myfxcm.com portal.
As you may already be aware, last week, the Swiss National Bank (“SNB”) announced that they will no longer support a self-imposed floor on the EUR/CHF exchange rate. Learn More.
The SNB announcement, extreme price movements and the resulting lack of liquidity were exceptional and unprecedented events causing many market participants to incur trading losses. These events were unforeseen and beyond the control of FXCM, constituting force majeure events.
Record of this transaction is available by generating a Combined Account Statement and referencing the description “Offset Transfer from Account to Account for Negative Balance”.
FXCM thanks you for you cooperation and understanding.
If you have any questions, please contact one of our specialists, who are available 24 hours a day, by live chat, by calling 1-888-503-6739, or by e-mail at [email protected]
FXCM hereby reserves all rights and remedies that it may have at law, in equity, under the terms of any contracts with you. Nothing in this notice shall be deemed to constitute a waiver or settlement of any of FXCM’s rights and remedies.