The former BitConnect promoter is said to have operated an unregistered managed investment scheme and provided unlicensed financial advice.
A former BitConnect promoter has been charged in Australia following an investigation by the ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) and international law enforcement agencies including the FBI.
52-year-old John Louis Anthony Bigatton is facing six charges that carry penalties of between two and ten years in prison over his involvement in promoting BitConnect, an online cryptocurrency platform and Ponzi scheme that collapsed in 2018. BitConnect is estimated to have lost investors a total AUD 3.7 billion.
Bigatton is facing one count of operating an unregistered managed investment scheme that carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and/or a fine of AUD 42,000, as well as one count of providing unlicensed financial services on behalf of another person, which carries maximum penalty of two years imprisonment and/or a fine of AUD 42,000.
In addition, Bigatton is facing four counts of making a false or misleading statement affecting market participation. The maximum penalty for each charge is 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine of AUD 945,000, or a fine of three times the proceeds derived from the commission of the offence.
While serving as the promoter of BitConnect in Australia between August 2017 and January 2018, Bigatton is said to have operated an unregistered managed investment scheme called BitConnect Lending Platform, and provided unlicensed financial advice in seminars he conducted around the country.
ASIC alleges that during four of the seminars, Bigatton he made false or misleading statements, which were likely to induce investors to apply for, or acquire, interests in the BitConnect Lending Platform.
The matter, being prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions after a referral from ASIC, has been adjourned to 2 February 2021 for mention.
On 1 September 2020, ASIC banned Bigatton from providing financial services for seven years, saying he is not fit and proper, adequately trained, competent, and is likely to contravene a financial services law.
Separately, an inquest into Bigatton’s wife’s disappearance and suspected death in March 2018 is reportedly expected to begin early next year.