Local authorities in Samoa has identified members and ministers of a religious group who got involved in a multi-billion dollar cryptocurrency project flagged as fraudulent but global regulators, RNZ reports.
The religious group is a church named as the “Samoa Worship Center.” On Thursday, the country’s Central Bank listed the center as one of two churches victimized by the OneCoin cryptocurrency project. U.S regulators last month arrested Konstantin Ignatov and his older sister Ruja Ignatova, who masterminded the project.
Speaking to RNZ, IT engineer, Fono Toluono who works at the church’s Apia-based office, disclosed that the church’s involvement in the project came after representatives of OneCoin approached the organization for a chance to pitch its offer to the congregation.
Following the pitch, several members in the congregation including the ministers invested in OneCoin as it promised massive returns within the short-term.
Fono further noted that the project received a lot of investment from the public not only the congregation, with himself putting in $1100 in the scheme.
Meanwhile, in May 2018, Samoa authorities had imposed a ban to resist the residents from making any transaction on OneCoin in response to the increasing global concerns on the project.
According to Samoan Central Bank, OneCoin managed to outwit the existing ban by passing an estimated amount of $US2.3 million to New Zealand, having their target on Samoan churches whose branches are also in New Zealand.
According to the bank’s statement on Thursday, several people are under scrutiny including Samoan Money Transfer Operators who somehow aided OneCoin’s operations.
Writing on the penalty for money laundering, NZ noted that such defendants in Samoa get a maximum of 15 years imprisonment and a fine of $US374,000 or a combination of both.
In another crypto crime development, we reported that a high-school student, Joel Ortiz bagged a 10-year jail term for stealing roughly $7.5 million worth of cryptocurrencies