The Australian man accused of running the local arm of an alleged cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme that torched $US2.5 billion ($3.4 billion) of investment worldwide has been charged with offences that carry jail terms of up to ten years.
John Louis Anthony Bigatton, first reported in early 2019 by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald as the alleged Australian promoter of BitConnect, was charged with a range of offences following an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
The United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation assisted ASIC in its investigation, the regulator said.
Mr Bigatton’s charges were announced as ASIC comes under increasing pressure over the large number of high-risk online investment platforms that have been subject to either a large number of consumer complaints or allegations of unconscionable conduct.
BitConnect was an online currency platform with a market capitalisation of $US2.5 billion. It held glitzy events around the world that showcased the benefits of investing in its platform, including large seminars in Australia. One video of a conference shows money raining from the sky as the Star Wars theme plays.
BitConnect collapsed in early 2018 wiping out that investment.
Mr Bigatton, from the southern Sydney suburb of Carss Park, is yet to enter a plea. He has been charged with four counts of making a false or misleading statement affecting market participation, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years for each charge. He has also been charged with one count of operating an unlicensed scheme and one count of providing unlicensed financial services.
ASIC alleges Mr Bigatton operated an unlicensed managed investment scheme in Australia as part of the broader BitConnect network.
“ASIC further alleges that during four seminars conducted by Mr Bigatton, he made false or misleading statements which were likely to induce investors to apply for, or acquire, interests in the BitConnect Lending Platform,” ASIC said in a statement.
The matter will return to court on February 2, 2021.
Source: Thanks smh.com