* Germany’s Bafin, UK’s FCA probe Commerzbank deals *
Cyprus aims to attract a rising number of investment firms and companies providing fiduciary services, as regulation will become universal this year and all companies will fall under the scrutiny of the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC).
The head of the investment watchdog body said that to date there are some 200 investment management, trading and financial services companies that have applied for licensing from CySEC, plus another 90 currently regulated by the central bank will fall under its supervision.
CySEC chair Demetra Kalogirou said that of the 170 regulated KEPEY firms, about 70% were involved in forex trading and of which a handful in the new category of binary options. She added that a further 20-25 forex firms had applied for licensing and 15 in binary options trading.
Kalogirou said that CySEC is also the sole supervisory body for the 104 companies listed on the Cyprus Stock Exchange and that in order to cope with the additional workload, the Commission has hired five people as part of the government-subsidised programme for unemployed graduates, while it is also in cooperation with the CSE for the better utilisation of human resources.
She added that her office is in contact with the German financial regulator Bafin and the UK’s FCA to investigate transactions made by now-defunct Laiki Bank and arranged by Germany's Commerzbank.
Reuters reported last week that opposition MP Irene Charalambides had sent a letter to CySEC and to Germany's Bafin, alleging that Commerzbank sold two structured products that acted as vehicles for Laiki to buy stock in itself and affiliates.
There are limits on companies buying their own stock without obtaining shareholder approval, to prevent them from surreptitiously inflating their own market price.
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