Ex-BitConnect promoter confesses to criminal charges

Breaking News: Former BitConnect promoter, John Bigatton, has pled guilty to one criminal charge in relation to providing unlicensed financial services.

Bigatton recently appeared before the Sydney District Court on May 16, where he confessed to providing unlicensed financial services on behalf of another individual. This action is in direct violation of section 911B(1) of Australia’s Corporations Act.

For those unfamiliar, BitConnect was a financial service company that operated an online cryptocurrency platform, offering investment opportunities through its website, notably the Lending Platform. Investors were required to acquire BitConnect coin (BCC), a form of cryptocurrency, to participate in this platform.

The Lending Platform allowed lenders to invest or “loan” BCC for designated periods in return for promised high-interest rates. Notably, investors were unable to control their loans or withdraw their capital until the period concluded.

In his role as a promoter, Bigatton promoted the now-defunct BitConnect Ponzi scheme through social media, various seminars across Australia, and direct investor meetings. Strikingly, he offered financial product advice without possessing an Australian Financial Services license or authorization to offer financial services.

Reportedly, Bigatton engaged in these activities on six occasions, including four seminars and two social media posts.

The sentencing hearing is set for July 5, following Bigatton’s admission of guilt to the main charge and the subsequent withdrawal of a related charge concerning an unregistered managed investment scheme.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions is handling the case after an investigation and referral by ASIC.

BitConnect’s Infamous History

BitConnect ceased operations in 2018 amid allegations of running a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of substantial amounts. The platform enticed investors with promises of unusually high investment returns.

On Sept. 1, 2020, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) imposed a seven-year ban on Bigatton from providing financial services, as a consequence of his involvement as the national BitConnect promoter in Australia. The ban aimed to curb fraudulent activities in the crypto space and protect investors from potential scams.

This initiative forms part of ASIC’s broader commitment to combating fraudulent practices within the cryptocurrency sector and ensuring the safety of investors.

In a significant development, over 800 victims of the Bitconnect Ponzi scheme were mandated to receive a portion of a $17 million restitution recovered from the $2.4 billion scam by the U.S. federal district court in San Diego in January 2023.

Moreover, a Manhattan resident, Idin Dalpour, was recently charged in a separate multi-million-dollar Ponzi scheme linked to cryptocurrency, defrauding investors of $43 million. If convicted, Dalpour could face up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud.

For more details on Dalpour’s case, read the official press publication by the Department of Justice here.

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