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WhatsApp 'Academy’ told to pay £530k in compensation

The High Court has ordered 24HR Trading Academy Limited to pay restitution of £530,000 to ex-clients.

In a summary court judgement, following proceedings launched by the FCA, the High Court ruled that 24HR Trading Academy Limited, run by Mohammed Fuaath Haja Maideen Maricar, had breached the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA) by providing unauthorised investment advice to consumers via WhatsApp messages.

The court also found that Mr Maricar was “knowingly concerned” in his company’s contraventions of FSMA.

Judge Jonathan Richards, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge, ordered Mr Maricar to pay restitution in excess of £530,000.

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The recovered funds will be distributed to 24HR Trading customers, the FCA said. 

24HR Trading unlawfully provided trading signals to clients for a fee. The ‘signals’ were sent via WhatsApp and contained recommendations about contracts for difference (CFDs) relating to currencies and commodities. 

The court found that these signals amounted to unlawful investment advice.

The FCA said that 24HR Trading also encouraged consumers to open trading accounts with ‘partnered brokers’ to place their CFD trades. Mr Maricar received significant sign-up and other commissions from these brokers. This conduct was found to constitute both financial promotion and making arrangements with a view to consumers acquiring investments.

24HR Trading and Mr Maricar were not authorised by the FCA, or exempt from authorisation, and the promotional communications were not approved by an authorised person.

Mark Steward, executive director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, said: “Neither 24HR Trading nor Mr Maricar were permitted to give investment advice which, in this case, included sending trading signals via social media and their conduct risked substantial losses for customers. 

“We urge consumers to make sure they are dealing with FCA authorised firms when seeking investment advice, including offers to provide tips or signals via social media apps, and to stay clear of unauthorised operators like 24HR Trading and Mr Maricar.”

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