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Australian Man Pleads Guilty to Promoting BitConnect

An Australian man has admitted his role in promoting cryptocurrency lending services for the now-defunct crypto exchange BitConnect, a notorious entity accused of operating as a Ponzi scheme and defrauding victims of over $2.4 billion before shutting down in 2018.

“Mr. Bigatton provided financial product advice without holding an Australian Financial Services license or authorization to provide financial services about the lending platform,” the Australian Securities and Exchange Commission (ASIC) stated on May 17.

ASIC claimed that John Louis Anthony Bigatton, in his capacity as BitConnect’s national promoter, gave financial product advice on six occasions at different locations across Australia, including four seminars and two social media posts.

“Mr. Bigatton undertook promotional activities for BitConnect and the Lending Platform on social media, at seminars that he hosted at various locations around Australia, and through face-to-face meetings with investors,” ASIC continued.

BitConnect’s lending platform was touted as an investment opportunity, urging investors to purchase BitConnect coin (BCC) through its website.

Investors could loan BCC for a fixed period in exchange for high interest rates.

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Once invested, they had no control over their loans or the ability to withdraw their money until the lending period concluded.

This structure allegedly allowed the platform to function as a Ponzi scheme, using funds from newer investors to pay returns to earlier investors, as per the United States Internal Revenue Service.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 5.

BitConnect was launched in February 2016, offering a platform and a digital currency, but it ceased operations in January 2018 when its founders disappeared with investors’ money.

In January 2023, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California ordered $17 million in restitution for the fraudulent scheme, providing some relief to victims of the BitConnect investment scam.

A group of victims of the BitConnect fraud scheme found some solace when a court mandated they receive a portion of the $17 million restitution.

The whereabouts of founder Satish Kumbhani remain unknown.

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