Contracts for Difference
In 2017, following a comprehensive investigation by the Norwegian financial supervisor, the regulator chose to revoke the license of the brokerage house ‘Nordic Securities’ after uncovering serious misconduct by the firm. Following an investigation, the Norwegian supervisor found that the transactions costs on the trading platform were excessively high, and that investment recommendations by the firm were designed to encourage short-term trading, encouraging high transaction frequency. The company’s brokers often also gave investment advice based on loose guesses, and customers who hesitated to follow the advice of brokers were often persuaded to follow regardless.
On average, customers lost 68% of their savings annually, despite stock markets generally increasing during the measurement period. High and hidden fees were the main reason for customers’ major losses. Annual fees amounted to 69% of the customers’ capital, meaning that customers had to achieve a 69% annual return on investments to just break even. The company informed consumers about gains they had made, but concealed information about financial losses.
The customers were cheated twice. First, Nordic Securities ran them through a scheme where they paid ridiculously high fees, and then, they had the company’s worthless shares dumped on them. The Norwegian supervisor concluded that the owners dumped their own shares in the Nordic Securities parent company, selling the shares to the company’s own customers. The customers paid NOK 200 million (€21 million) for the shares, based on an unrealistic estimate that the company had a value of €500 million.