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Two binary-options brands, Intrade The Prediction Market Limited (Intrade) and Trade Exchange Network Limited (TEN), have been hit with a $3 million penalty for defrauding their customers and violating the Commodity Exchange Act

The two companies, both based in Ireland, apparently are no longer doing business via the internet, at least not while using the names under which they have been sanctioned and banned.

Time to buy the dip?

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The CFTC’s initial legal action in 2015 describes Intrade and TEN charges as “(1) allowing U.S. customers to trade those 5,503 binary option contracts, (2) failing to have blocks in place for U.S. customers on 2,027 prohibited binary option contracts, and (3) lifting blocks on prohibited binary option contracts.”

Specifically, from September 2007 to June 2012, Intrade and TEN operated an online “prediction market” trading website, which allowed U.S. customers to trade binary options products prohibited under the CFTC’s rules.

The online betting site InTrade was controversial because it let users trade on real events, such as the winner of presidential elections, specific acts of war and weather events.

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For those with money tied up with Intrade, if you visit the site now, you will find a message from company says it has “closed and settled all open contracts at fair market value as of the close of business on March 10, 2013” and that they can still see their account details by logging into the site.

Violations since 2005

In addition, the complaint alleges that TEN violated an order issued by the CFTC in 2005 that found the company engaged in similar conduct and was ordered to cease from violating the regulations.

The penalties and bans were ordered by the US District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs in the case were accused with violating the Commodity Exchange Act’s ban on off-exchange options trading by entering into binary options contracts with retail U.S. customers.

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The court’s order also finds that defendants defrauded customers by making false representations in their solicitations and misappropriating their funds.

Because neither of the penalized companies was “registered as a designated contract market, exempt board of trade or bona fide foreign board of trade,” the court’s order states, the binary-options deals the defendants proposed “constituted unlawful off-exchange options.”

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