Irish predictions and betting website Intrade has shut down its service with a vague explanation concerning possible financial irregularities, the company announced Sunday.
Intrade is best-known for offering bets on real-life events such as the U.S. presidential election, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, and succession the next pope. Intrade customers correctly predicted the reelection of President Barack Obama and had given Italian Archbishop Cardinal Angelo Scola the best odds of being the next pope with a 25 percent chance.
In November, the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed a complaint against Intrade that ordered all U.S. customers to close their accounts by the end of 2012. The complaint accused Intrade of violating several U.S. laws concerning options trading and making false statements.
Intrade’s explanation of why it shut down is quite vague. It said “circumstances recently discovered” that might include “financial irregularities” forced it to close. These issues will require a detailed investigation.
Intrade said it has shut down every member’s account and settled all open contracts “at fair market value as of the close of business on March 10.” Members who have questions for Intrade were only given a single email address [email@example.com] for questions they had about their accounts. That seems like an insufficient solution for members considering how huge this issue is.
While the shut down appears to be massive, Intrade indicated that it will do everything in its power to “resume operations as promptly as possible.”
Read the company’s full goodbye letter below.
With sincere regret we must inform you that due to circumstances recently discovered we must immediately cease trading activity on http://www.intrade.com.
These circumstances require immediate further investigation, and may include financial irregularities which in accordance with Irish law oblige the directors to take the following actions:
Cease exchange trading on the website immediately.
Settle all open positions and calculate the settled account value of all Member accounts immediately.
Cease all banking transactions for all existing Company accounts immediately.
During the upcoming weeks, we will investigate these circumstances further and determine the necessary course of action.
To mitigate any further risk to members’ accounts, we have closed and settled all open contracts at fair market value as of the close of business on March 10, 2013, in accordance with the Terms and Conditions of our customers’ use of the website. You may view your account details and settled account balances by logging into the website.
At this time and until further notice, it is not possible to make any payments to members in accordance with their settled account balance until the investigations have concluded.
The Company will continue the maintenance and technology operations of the exchange system so that all information is preserved properly.
We are not able to provide telephone support or live help services at this time, please contact the company by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We appreciate your custom and support over the years. We are committed to reporting faithfully the status of things as they are clarified and hope you will bear with us as we do all we can to resume operations as promptly as possible.
The Board of Directors of Intrade the Prediction Market Limited
Man counting money via Tatiana Morozova/Shutterstock