Updated Jan 29, 2020: we have been asked the lawyer of Rodeler to remove the article as it would harm their client which we refused because we stick to our fact-based findings and conclusions. We, however, agreed to certain changes in the text which are marked. Additionally, we included the lawyer’s view and opinion to provide our readers with a broader picture. FinTelegram will continue its research into the interesting Rodeler et al case.
The Forex & binary options veteran Rodeler Limited was registered in Cyprus in 2012 and granted a license by CySEC under CIF No 207/13 in January 2013. The company used to operate the Forex brand 24option and several other brands. The venture was established by the Israeli Roey Hayun, who was later arrested for money laundering and running an illegal gambling establishment according to the Times of Israel. The Israelis Uzi Baruch and Kfir Cohen are registered as directors.
According to the Rodeler lawyer, Mr. Hayun is not a beneficial owner of the company. Our respective statement is based on Simona Weinglass’s article published in July 2017. In this article, Roey Hayus was called the founder of 24option.
F1Markets Limited was founded in Cyprus in 2014 and obtained the CIF License No. 267/15 from CySEC in January 2015. The director of F1Markets is Maria Panayi (LinkedIn profile), a Cypriot who has been with the company since 2015 according to her LinkedIn profile.
FinTelegram has circumstantial evidence that while the two groups of companies, Rodeler and F1Markets operate separately they are jointly managed and/or have joint beneficial owners. In addition, whistleblowers have pointed to shadow organizations outside the respective regulatory units In Albania, Romania, and Kiev to circumvent regulatory burdens.
The Regulator Warnings
Rodeler Limited apparently has
always been stretching, violating and/or neglecting regulatory requirements in the first place. Consequently, it received warnings from financial market regulators almost from the very beginning despite their licenses in Cyprus and Belize. In 2013, the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC), Canada, has issued a warning against Rodeler Limited and all of its CySEC-registered brands, 24option, 24fx, ZoneOptions, GrandOptions, and BinaryOption-affiliate.
In the years of binary options hype until its collapse in 2018, Rodeler successfully billed itself as one of the good and reputable brokers. In the meantime, however, complaints from investors in all jurisdictions are accumulating. Complaints about non-payouts are also received repeatedly by FinTelegram and the European Funds Recovery Organisation (EFRI).
The Italian regulator CONSOB prohibited Rodeler from operating in Italy with all broker brands on 23 December 2019 which was a so-called precautionary measure. According to CONSOB, Rodeler has continuously and repeatedly violated regulatory provisions. This was only the second such radical measure in CONSOB’s history.
The French regulator AMF banned Rodeler and 24option in August 2016 but lifted the ban in July 2017.
The Criminal Charges
24option has always been strongly focused on the German and Spanish markets. It comes, therefore, as no surprise that retail investors in the respective jurisdictions filed criminal claims against the Rodeler scheme. But also against F1Markets and its brands and entities.
FinTelegram has received copies of criminal charges from clients against of the broker brands of Rodeler and F1Markets. The problem of the involved authorities is, as with other broker schemes, the deliberately complicated network of companies spread over various jurisdictions and regulatory regimes.
Over the last few months since the publication of our first report on Rodeler and 24option, we have received a lot of valuable information from whistleblowers. We have followed them and updated our research.
The Belize Connection
Following warnings from various financial market regulators and the suspension by the French regulator AMF, Richfield Capital Ltd, registered in Belize, was added as co-operator in Q3/2016. With Richfield Capital, Wonderbridge Services Ltd, registered in Cyprus, was added as a payment agent.
The pattern of company configuration with registered and licensed companies in Cyprus and Belize is identical between the Rodeler and F1Markets. Thus, F1Markets also has a sister company registered and licensed in Belize – IOS Investments Ltd.
The shadow organizations
According to the information available to FinTelegram, we are pursuing the following hypothesis:
- The two groups of companies, Rodeler and F1Markets, are personally interconnected and hence constitute related parties with the original founder of Rodeler, Roey Hayun, as one of the beneficial owners;
- Both groups run and share an unregulated shadow organization outside their regulated companies with locations in Romania, Albania, and Ukraine.
One of the shadow companies is the Albanian Smartcom sh.a (www.smartcom.al), which is officially listed as a licensed agent of Rodeler Limited and is registered with the Albanian Financial Market Authority AFM as an authorized agent of Rodeler Limited. The beneficial owners of Smartcom are 24option founder Roey Hayun and Alessandro Ungaro. The latter is also a director of Smartcom Promoting (Cyprus) Ltd.
In Bucharest, Romania, Rodeler has established Cronos Ares Partners SRL as a registered agent with Giovanni Gatti (LinkedIn profile) as founder and CEO. Two more shadow companies in the F1Markets and Rodeler environment, Westlake & Partners SRL and J-Lobber SRL, are also operated in Romania. Allegedly, these are mainly focused on the broker brands of the F1Markets.
The title “shadow organizations” and what is stated therein implies that these relationship were dubious or undisclosed. Our clients arrangements with tied agents are both known to the respective Regulators concerned and are transparent. Therefore once again your facts are wrong and misleading and the inferenced made are intentionally defamatory.Statement of Rodeler’s lawyer
We take note of the opinion of Rodeler’s lawyers but stick to our findings. Only the German Rodeler DE GmbH is registered as a tied agent on the CySEC website. On the Rodeler’s website, however, the Romanian Cronos Ares Partners SRL is also named as a tied agent. In vain one searches for the Albanian Smartcom sh.a. This company claims on its website and by means of permission of the Albanian Financial Market Authority AMF that it is an authorized agent of Rodeler since July 2017. Smartcom acts on behalf of Rodeler for the company’s international Forex and CFD business. In our view, this company should have been approved as a tied agent by CySEC. By failing to officially present Smartcom and Smartcom Promoting (Cyprus) Ltd, the term shadow organization seems to be appropriate.
The Banks and Payment Processors
The FinTelegram Research Team has the necessary payment documents proving that the German Wirecard Bank, and Deutsche Handelsbank, as well as, UPC Consulting together with the notorious KBH Andelskasse has been working for 24option for bank wire from customers. These banks and payment processors are also mentioned on the payment instructions of 24 Capital Markets (24cm.com) for example. 24cm is registered with CySEC under F1Markets but uses the payment instructions of 24option (copy & paste).
For CC payments, besides Wirecard and PPRO, the Israeli Leumi Bank was also involved. According to an involved European bank, Investous was (is) registered as a merchant with the Leumi Bank.
FinTelegram has received circumstantial evidence that Rodeler and F1Markets are indeed related via shared resources and its beneficial owners. For obvious reasons Rodeler’s lawyer, however, strictly denies the existence of such relationships as he denies the existence of a shadow organization. FinTelegram will continue its research in close cooperation with our whistleblowers.
Request for information
If you do have any information on Rodler and/or F1Markets and/or their activities we would be more than happy to received them to further our research in the very best interest of investor protection. You can use our whistleblower system to share the information with us.