Canadian Regulators Warn of Firms Using Kevin O’Leary’s likeness
Canada’s Ontario Securities Commission, one of the largest regulators in the country, has issued a warning to consumers regarding several websites that have used businessman and TV personality Kevin O’Leary’s likeness to promote their products. These binary options brokers have been operating in the country without regulation, and have been using O’Leary as a way to make themselves appear more legitimate, according to the watchdog.
The perpetrators include four websites, two of which were still using O’Leary’s picture when researched. These companies are accused of selling “get-rich-quick” schemes that many times are simply covers for fraudsters. While Canada does not directly ban the industry from operating in the country, the OSC has made it clear that there are no binary options brokers or providers currently authorized to offer their services in Canada.
O’Leary Denies Involvement in Binary Options
Ontario’s top financial regulator has warned investors of at least four binary options brokers that have been using Kevin O’Leary’s likeness to sell what the watchdog describes as get-rich schemes. The Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank star denied involvement in any of the sites investigated by the OSC, as well as any participation in binary options at all. The Conservative Party leadership hopeful is one of Canada’s most well-known businessmen and personalities.
The four companies—Millionaire(s) Blueprint, Play it On Point, Eurostreet Money, and Boss Capital—are operating in Canada without regulation, and two of them continue to use O’Leary’s likeness despite the warning. The sites include everything from pictures of O’Leary with quotes talking about his investment acumen and strategies. Some go further, and even include articles alleging that Mr. O’Leary’s “Secret to Success” is binary options, going as far as quoting “associates” that “corroborate” the alleged strategy.
The worst part is that the OSC has previously issued warnings against at least one of the brokers mentioned. In October, the British Columbia Securities Commission—in an unrelated case—issued a warning against Millionaires Blueprint, advising that the company is not registered to trade, advise on, or provide any contracts or securities in British Columbia.
While binary options are not explicitly banned in Canada, regulators across the country have taken a hardline stance against the industry, with no brokers currently authorized to offer any investment or trading services. While Canada’s financial regulation follows a more decentralized model, the issue has become a rallying point for all regulators as the problem of binary options worsened.
Escalating the War on Binary Options
Canada has followed the US’ lead when it comes to dealing with binary options. The country has not banned them, but is incredibly restrictive when it comes to allowing companies to operate legally within its borders. With a rash of unregulated brokers popping up, Canadian regulators have been looking for ways to clamp down on potentially dangerous firms that are more fraudsters than financiers.
2016 was not a kind year to the industry, and 2017 is not shaping up to be much better. Last year, several European countries made moves to severely curtail the industry, with Belgium enacting a full ban on any binary options. Meanwhile countries such as France and Holland have restricted companies’ abilities to reach consumers directly via electronic marketing.
In Canada, 2016 was filled with financial regulators taking a more direct role in policing and calling out firms that were operating without permission or regulation. The Canadian Securities Administrators, which oversees all financial regulators in the country, has issued statements on the dangers of binary options brokers, which include fraud, loss of personal information, and massive loss of funds.