Forex broker goes belly up

A Sydney financial services firm whose director has been linked to a multimillion-dollar Italian fraud case has gone into liquidation.

A Sydney financial services firm whose director has been linked to a multimillion-dollar Italian fraud case has gone into liquidation.

GTL Tradeup, a foreign exchange brokerage with an office in Hunter Street, sent a note to clients on Wednesday informing them of its decision to go into liquidation.

The firm's director, Pakistani businessman Mahmood Riaz, has allegedly been linked by Italian media to a $36 million fraud case.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission on Friday said it was aware of the matter but no official document had been lodged. An ASIC spokesman said it was "still waiting on confirmation of an appointed liquidator".

In a note sent from GTL on Wednesday, GTL clients were told they had 24 hours to close "all open and pending orders with GTL Tradeup" before trading was be disabled.

They were also warned that the company's website would be shut down within 48 hours. By Thursday afternoon the website had been shut down and no one was answering the GTL phone in Sydney.

Mr Riaz could not be contacted. Andrew Jeffers - who, according to ASIC documents, ceased being a company director on Monday - declined to comment on Friday.

It is not known how many clients will affected by GTL's liquidation, nor how much money is involved. Last year a question was read on the floor of the European parliament which touched on details of the Italian fraud case: "More than 400 Italian savers have invested varying amounts in the investment company GFOREX s.p.a. of Milan, which used an electronic platform and trading services provided by GTL, with registered offices in Dubai," it read.

"GFOREX has now officially informed savers that their money disappeared when, on 18 March 2011, the broker GTL prevented GFOREX from accessing the platform, thereby blocking all trading. Approximately $U36 million has therefore been pocketed by GTL. These are savings that have been transferred to a bank on the Virgin Islands."

A message from GTL Tradeup on its Facebook page read: "Been told GTL Australia is insolvent and we are all out of a job. My heart goes out to our clients who will have to try to get their funds back from DMCC Dubai." DMCC is a GTL parent entity.

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