An online trading firm based in the tax haven of Cyprus is planning to open a subsidiary in Cambodia, an account manager at IronFX’s headquarters in Cyprus said yesterday.
“We are on the planning stage in Cambodia. We are now studying law and regulations in the country right now,” account manager Siwapong Meesuntree said by Skype.
“We see no obstacle in the Cambodia market,” he said. “Basically, when we set up the office, it means we have some market and customers there,” he added.
When asked about reports from sources at recruiting firms in Phnom Penh that local staff had already been hired to receive training at IronFX’s headquarters in Cyprus, Siwapong replied: “We will have Cambodia staff very soon.”
Siwapong described his role at the company as overseeing trading in Southeast Asia.
He denied reports that the company was owned by Russian nationals, or that it had a parent company. “The major shareholders are Cypriot and have no link with Russians.”
IronFX claims on its website that it is both “part of an international financial services group founded in 1972” and that it was “founded in 2010”. Siwapong was vague when asked to explain this discrepancy, saying the company had been involved in financial services since 1972, 30 years before it was incorporated, without providing the name of the company it had allegedly operated under.
Cyprus’s financial services industry has been in the spotlight this year following that country’s financial crisis. The island nation’s financial services industry had grown massively through a combination of tax and regulatory incentives, including a high level of secrecy that can, in some cases, “make the disclosure of information in Cyprus offshore bank accounts … punishable by the law”, according to tax haven experts. “Bank employees and other persons who are associated with Cyprus banks must take an oath of secrecy,” the website Taxhavens.biz says.
The financial crisis in Cyprus brought to the fore long-standing allegations that the island nation had become a major conduit for money laundering by Russian businesses and mafia. This has prompted an ongoing review by European experts of anti-money laundering laws and practices in Cyprus.
Siwapong also defended IronFX against allegations that its marketing materials did not comply with regulations set by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission. The commission issued a warning to Cyprus investment firms (CIFs) on March 7, saying that it had received complaints of misleading marketing by them.
The commission had received complaints that “marketing communications do not adhere to the relevant provisions and therefore, urges the compliance officers of CIFs to ensure that their marketing communications comply fully and will continue to comply, at all times,” the note said, adding that legal sanctions would be imposed on those found to be in breach of regulations.
Siwapong said that IronFX was the victim of its success. “Well, popularism comes with criticism. There are some who are hired [by] competitors to attack other companies with no clue,” he explained.