Friday, May 24

NTC orders blocking of unlicensed investment platform

THE National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has initiated the blocking of websites and apps offering investment opportunities without the necessary license, upon the request of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

On February 21, the NTC issued a memorandum to all internet service providers, directing them to immediately block the websites and apps of MiTrade for violations of the Securities Regulation Code, Revised Corporation Code of the Philippines, and regulations enforced by the SEC.

“We thank the NTC for supporting our campaign against investment scams and other predatory financial schemes toward the protection of the investing public.” SEC Chairperson Emilio B. Aquino said.

“The directive of the NTC will greatly help in preventing the proliferation of investment scams. The SEC and NTC will continue to work closely together to take similar actions on other platforms facilitating illegal investment-taking activities and other predatory financial schemes.”

In a letter dated February 14, the SEC requested for the blocking of MiTrade’s website after the Commission found that the entity was actively employing promotional campaigns on various social media platforms to attract and entice Filipinos to engage in investment and trading activities using its platforms.

MiTrade offered the trading of financial instruments from a wide range of asset classes such as foreign currency pairs, foreign shares, index funds, and commodity derivatives.

The operators of MiTrade appeared to be registered brokers and dealers oversees, and the securities and investments being offered likewise appeared to be registered in various countries.

In the Philippines, however, the Securities Regulation Code requires the prior registration with the SEC of any securities for public offering within the Philippines.  This involves the filing of an application for registration and providing detailed information about the securities, including the issue price, use of proceeds of the sale, and nature of the securities.

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The Securities Regulation Code further requires that the corporation issuing such securities must secure from the SEC a license to sell or offer securities to the public. Agents of the issuers must likewise register with the SEC.  

The operator of MiTrade was not registered as a corporation in the Philippines, and operated without the necessary license to sell or offer any form of securities, to engage in the business of buying or selling securities, to operate as a broker or dealer, or to create or operate an exchange in the country.

In this light, the SEC in September 2023 issued an advisory warning the public against transacting on MiTrade. The Commission also warned those who act as salesmen, brokers, dealers or agents, representatives, promoters, recruiters, influencers, endorsers and enables of MiTrade that they may be held criminally liable under the Securities Regulation Code and penalized with a maximum fine of P5 million and/or imprisonment of up to 21 years.  (PR)