35 investors who claim they were defrauded and lost more than €4m in an electronic-trading scam have had their case against an Irish registered firm and four businessmen admitted to the Commercial Court.
The court heard the 35, among a potential 111 investors, are suing Greymountain Management Ltd, in liquidation, its Dublin-based directors, Ryan Coates and Liam Grainger, and alleged shadow directors, brothers Jonathan and David Cortu who are based in Israel.
Today, Mr Justice Robert Haughton admitted the case to the High Court's fast track commercial list on the application of Marcus Dowling BL, for the 35 investors.
Rossa Fanning, for the four personal defendants, said his clients vigorously deny the claims and his side regarded these proceedings as opportunistic.
They opposed entry of the case to the commercial list on grounds including that 35 claims for different amounts and for different investments have been "shoehorned" into one claim in order to come within the €1m threshold for admission to the Commercial Court.
Mr Justice Haughton said he was prepared to admit the matter to the Commercial Court even though it involved different amounts an investments. It seemed to be common case that the money was paid through Greymountain, he said.
He gave directions for exchange of papers in the case which comes back before the court in October.
Mr Fanning said there may be an application from his clients on a later date for a security of costs order against the 35 plaintiffs as none of them live in this jurisdiction.
In their action, the investors claim they believed they were investing in a complex trade known as binary options, when in fact the software system their trades were conducted on was rigged to ensure they lost their money.
Also known as “all or nothing options”, binary options are a product where the investor gets either a payoff of some fixed monetary amount if successful, or nothing at all from their investment.
The outcome of the investment depends entirely on the outcome of a yes/no proposition.
The yes/no proposition depends the price of a particular asset will rise above or fall below a specified amount at a specified date and time.
Binary options are banned in most jurisdictions due to the high risk involved and fraud.
The investors claim they lost around €4.1m from investing in binary options either indirectly, or through third parties directly with Greymountain, which it is claimed provided services to binary options providers.
The investors, who come from the US, Canada, Singapore, UAE and the UK claim they were induced by the defendants to open binary accounts with false claims they would earn significant profits.
The investors made payments to Greymountain which, it is alleged, played a pivotal role in the scheme.
Instead of acting honestly it is alleged the defendants conspired to defraud them, they claim.
It is claimed the defendants misrepresented the location, qualification and identity of brokers and advisers with whom the investors interacted.
The investors, it is alleged, were told the brokers and advisers would act in their interests, generate profits for the investors and earn commissions on profits earned from their investments.
The brokers and adviser’s objectives, it is claimed, was to cause harm to the investors.
They claim the software systems upon which the trades were conducted and executed were not legitimate and transparent and were rigged to ensure the investors lost their money.
The defendants also refused to allow them withdraw their money and cancelled withdrawal instructions from the plaintiffs, it is claimed.
It is also claimed the investors were directed to a website operated by the defendant that contained false testimonials and bogus descriptions of historical returns.
It is alleged the directors used Greymountain as a device to facilitate the binary options trading scam.