Interactive Brokers Australia ordered to halt Forex services

The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) has told Interactive Brokers Group, Inc (NASDAQ:IBKR), the U.S based provider of trade execution and clearing services for individuals, advisors, prop trading groups, brokers and hedge funds that it will have to wind down it’s OTC FX trading services to Aussie clients.

Moreover, ASIC is also assessing whether the U.S. firm has breached the Corporations Act, Miriam Phillips, a Sydney-based ASIC media spokeswoman said by e-mail to Bloomberg. Caitlin Duffy, a Greenwich, Connecticut-based spokeswoman for Interactive Brokers, declined comment.

Foretelling this day might come soon, back in December of 2014 LeapRate reported that Interactive Brokers made margin loans to its Australian clients between 2010-2013 despite not holding an Australian financial services (AFS) licence, which required for the provision of margin loans. IB had to refund the $1.5 million in fees and commissions generated through this provision to its Australian clients.

“ASIC has requested Interactive Brokers to cease providing all over-the-counter FX services in Australia, and has requested the provision of further information to enable ASIC to decide on an acceptable orderly exit mechanism from that business in Australia,” Miriam Phillips said.

It was reported by LeapRate last summer that the increasingly stringent and well renowned regulator wants Interactive Brokers to set up a brand new company to service its Australian clientele. This means that Interactive Brokers would have to commence from scratch the process of offering accounts in the country and will have to secure a new license and registration for the new business.

Interactive Brokers had been continuing to operate under ASIC’s watch since 2013, when the regulator adopted a “no action position” on the basis that the online broker would get a license that authorized its local Australian unit as a market maker, said Phillips. ASIC withdrew that position last week, and said Wednesday that it’s not ready to grant Interactive Brokers the license.

It seems as if the path laid out above by re-starting the whole registration process is the way forward, or will IB get ticked off and pull operations in the country? It doesn’t make sense that Australia would want to lose such a well respected and historic brokerage within the trading community.

Stay tuned to LeapRate for followup to this interesting development from down under…

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