The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) announced on Tuesday that it has charged John Louis Anthony Bigatton, the national representative of cryptocurrency investment scam BitConnect, with several counts of financial crimes.
This legal action came after the completion of the agency’s investigation on Bigatton on his involvement with the multi-billion dollar crypto scam. In September, ASIC imposed a seven-year ban on Bigatton from providing any financial services.
BitConnect was a heavily-marketed online cryptocurrency platform operated by the BitConnect Lending Platform. It promised massive returns to its investors, but turned out to be a Ponzi investment scheme which allegedly scammed investors out of $US2.6 billion. The scheme gained traction in 2017 with the boom in the crypto market and doomed in early 2018.
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The Australian market watchdog accused Bigatton of his role as the Australian national promoter of Bitconnect from August 2017 until January of 2018.
According to ASIC, he operated an unregistered managed investment scheme in the country and provided unlicensed financial advice to many investors across the country.
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He was additionally accused of making false or misleading statements that lead many Aussie investors to put their money in the BitConnect scam.
The Aussie regulator charged Bigatton with one count of operating an unregistered investment scheme, one count of providing unlicensed financial services, and four counts of making a false or misleading statement affecting market participation.
If convicted for the first charge, he might face up to 5 years jail time along with a maximum fine of AUD 42,000 (around $30,800), while the second will get him two years imprisonment with the same fine.
However, each count of misleading financial statements can get him ten years in jail. The court can also slap him a fine of AUD 945,000 (around $693,000) or three times the commissions he received from the investments.
Meanwhile, authorities across the globe made arrests and took actions against BitConnect and people associated with the scam. Despite the crackdown, many other similar fraudulent crypto investment schemes continued to target vulnerable investors.