The Plus500 fiasco around customer identity checks just keeps getting worse for everyone involved.
The spreadbetting company admitted today at its annual general meeting in London that ALL of its UK accounts have been frozen while it double checks the identity of who owns them.
When the saga first broke last week the company said just 55% of UK accounts had been frozen.
The massive upward revision is bad news for for customers, who can’t get access to their cash, but also for Plus500 investors. The UK business accounts for half of all Plus500’s revenue and more of it frozen means more lost revenue.
The admission follows news this morning that customers with frozen accounts will have to wait up to a month to get access to their cash.
Gal Haber, Plus500’s CEO and founder, told a room full of disgruntled investors: “There are different restrictions that are applied to some customers depending on if they have passed electronic verification or not. As a whole, we have to [sic] remediate everybody, even those who’ve gone through electronic verification.”
Chairman Alastair Gordon said the company thought customers who had already completed electronic identity checks, necessary before you withdraw you cash, were exempt from the FCA ordered review, but that “subsequent conversations showed that appeared to not be the case.”
For those who need a recap, Plus500 froze thousands of trading accounts in the UK last week after an FCA ordered review found their anti-money laundering checks weren’t up the scratch. That sent shares tumbling and the company has been struggling to reassure investors since.
Management also gave more details on what exactly the FCA wanted fixed. Haber said: “What came out of that review was that there were a lack of controls over the approval of documents. Most of those were utility bills. We’ve contacted our customers and told them how to send a proper utility bill.”
Haber said the necessary documentation was present in most cases but in some cases scans were blurry or didn’t show everything needed.
He added: “It’s also necessary for our customers to answer a questionnaire to understand their financial positions and how much they’re willing to spend. Things like that. Those were the major failings, there were some other things as well.”
Gordon blamed the mistakes on management at Plus500’s UK operation, saying: “These issues originally arose in the UK company under the previous management team. The main thing that we have done over the past three or four months as part of the 166 [the FCA ordered review] work is to significantly strengthen the UK management team and to work with the skilled person to make sure the checks were up to speed.”
The company recently appointed a head of compliance and a head of money laundering reporting. Sources close to the company also told Business Insider that several people at the UK operation have been replaced, although they wouldn’t give any more detail.
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