SINGAPORE: An unregulated trading platform believed to be registered in Belize has been blocked by Singapore authorities after the police received complaints from at least 40 people here.
The online platform, Arotrade, purportedly offers trading in Contracts for Difference (CFDs) for different asset classes such as stocks, foreign exchange, commodities, cryptocurrency and indices.
According to the police, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) in a joint statement on Thursday (May 28), the affected individuals had transferred more than S$330,000 in total to trade through Arotrade.
However, they noticed unauthorised trades in their accounts or encountered difficulties withdrawing their money.
"Police investigations revealed that Arotrade has been linked to fraudulent marketing tactics, including the use of fake news articles falsely claiming that prominent individuals, including Singapore’s political office holders, have endorsed investments in cryptocurrency, which misled and channelled people to Arotrade’s website," said the joint statement.
It added that Arotrade does not have a capital markets services licence, in breach of the Securities and Futures Act.
"Consequently, IMDA has determined that the information on the website constitutes prohibited content under the Internet Code of Practice," said the authorities.
IMDA has directed Internet Access Service Providers (IASPs) to block access to Arotrade’s website from Singapore residents, and all IASPs have implemented the restriction.
Police investigations on Arotrade are ongoing.
The police and MAS advised members of the public to exercise caution when dealing with unregulated online trading platforms
"Most unregulated online trading platforms are located outside Singapore and pose a greater risk of fraud since the credibility of their operations cannot be easily verified," they said, adding that those affected will face challenges in pursuing claims against operators based overseas.
Members of the public can first verify if an online trading platform has a valid capital markets services licence issued by MAS by checking the central bank's Financial Institutions Directory.
They can also check MAS’ Investor Alert List.