Germany's fight against OneCoin, a digital currency investment scheme widely believed to be fraudulent, is heating up.
German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung has published new details about the government’s efforts against OneCoin, reporting that prosecutors from the State Criminal Police Office of North Rhine-Westphalia, as well as the city of Bielefeld, have opened new investigations.
As CoinDesk reported in April, BaFin, Germany’s top financial regulator, seized the accounts of IMS International Marketing Services GmbH, which is accused of functioning as a money laundering channel for OneCoin. BaFin later effectively outlawed OneCoin just days later, issuing cease-and-desist letters to companies connected to the scheme and its backers.
What this means: When BaFin seized the accounts of IMS, they took control of roughly €29m. Yet, as the regulator said at the time, they believe as much as €360m changed hands between December 2015 and 2016 – an indication that the scheme found investors during its height.
According to Süddeutsche Zeitung, the prosecutorial investigations center around seven unnamed people and whether they made false promises about big profits from investing in OneCoin. Investigators also want to know to the extent to which they violated Germany’s payments services statutes – which connects them to what BaFin has done thus far – and may expand the scope beyond those parameters.
Further, as BehindMLM reports, the crackdown is already having an impact, with two events in Germany related to OneCoin being cancelled this week.
The big picture: Europe is quickly becoming an inhospitable environment for OneCoin.
Several central banks in Africa have issued warnings in the past, though the extent to which their respective governments are investigating the scheme is unknown at this time.
Investigation image via Shutterstock