Consumer center calls for sales ban in the gray market

Dhe color gray has many shades. And so it is with the gray capital market. Not everything there is bad and evil. But he is not part of the white capital market with the permission of the financial regulator Bafin and ongoing monitoring. The gray capital market is not illegal. This is only the black capital market, which is operated despite the necessary but missing Bafin approval.

It is unfortunate for the investor that it is often not obvious at first glance what is white, what is gray and what is black on the capital market. The Bafin points out a trivial connection as a sign of the gray capital market, but which investors keep forgetting: If providers advertise interest rates that are above the market level and at the same time promise maximum security, then caution is advised. The relationship between return and risk is one of the indisputable certainties of the capital markets. Nothing is free. High returns are only possible by accepting high risks. Anyone who claims otherwise is on dubious customer catch.

the Federation of Consumers (VZBV) is now making a new attempt to put an end to this. She calls for a ban on active sales in the gray capital market. “The products of the gray capital market are not actively in demand by consumers,” says Dorothea Mohn, head of the financial market team at VZBV. “They only get into their hands through advertising and active distribution. No professional and no one with expertise buys these products.”

Classic examples of the gray capital market are investments in wind energy, containers and real estate. “The investor who is looking for security is given the wrong impression that he is investing in real assets,” complains Mohn. The criticism of the VZBV will also be backed up on Wednesday in Berlin with a study that Stefan Loipfinger, an expert on the gray capital market and operator of the finance portal, prepared for the VZBV.

investors without rights

On 331 pages, it focuses on the ten largest providers and their business practices in recent years. “The investor is led to believe that he is investing in containers or real estate and that he has access to this material asset,” says Loipfinger. “But in reality, investors are mostly lenders without rights, holders of a financial construct in the form of subordinated loans whose chances of earning interest are limited.”

Loipfinger criticizes that the use of the money raised often remains uncontrolled, the providers’ current accounts are rarely up-to-date and meaningful, providers buy containers or real estate from their own subsidiaries on terms that have nothing to do with market prices, the accounting is non-transparent, hardly any Ad -hoc obligations exist and attestations from auditors are inadequate. “The market has structural deficits, further scandals are inevitable, there will be enormous losses,” he predicts.

In the insolvencies in the gray capital market of the real estate provider S&K 2013, the wind turbine operator Prokon 2014 and the shipping container company P&R 2018, German private investors lost more than three billion euros. In each case, the legislature has tried to react by amending the law. “This step-by-step approach has proven to be unsuitable,” says consumer advocate Mohn. “We are not against risks for investors, for example we are promoting long-term and diversified investments in shares, but there is also a functioning secondary market with pricing, transparency and monitoring.” In addition to a ban on the active sale of gray products, she demands also a functioning prospectus liability and an extension of the limitation period to at least 20 years for false advice.

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