The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has banned a man from providing financial services for seven years for his involvement in promoting a fraudulent cryptocurrency investment scheme.
According to a report from local publication the Financial Standard, New South Wales resident John Louis Anthony Bigatton had been acting as a representative for the widely alleged Ponzi scheme Bitconnect in Australia.
Biggaton had represented the company’s foothold in Australia from August 2017 to January 2018, advertising Bitconnect’s cryptocurrency trading platform as well as its Bitconnect Lending Platform, which has been the subject of much scrutiny in several countries around the world.
While its investigations are still ongoing, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission alleges that Bigatton had broken its regulatory guidelines by providing unlicensed financial product advice and had ‘engaged in conduct that intended to mislead and deceive investors.
The Australian SIC further alleged that Bigatton did not have the necessary qualifications or experience to be providing financial advice or services to clients. The official press release stated that Biggaton was not a “fit and proper person to provide financial services; is not adequately trained, or is not competent, to provide a financial service or financial services; and is likely to contravene a financial services law”.
While the initial ruling looks to bar the Bitconnect representative from offering any financial services for the next seven years, Bigatton does have the right to appeal the ban through the Australian SIC’s Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Fraud on the rise amid COVID-19 pandemic
A sad byproduct of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been the apparent uptick in the number of fraudulent schemes looking to prey on unwitting investors and economically desperate people.
Australia SIC has told the public that there has been a 20 percent increase in reports of consumers being duped out of investments from purported cryptocurrency scams between March and May 2020.
The Bitconnect scheme has been under the spotlight of the cryptocurrency community for the past few years and is widely alleged to be in part a Ponzi scheme. In January 2018 the Bitconnect cryptocurrency exchange and lending platform was officially shut down in America as reported by this writer for Cointelegraph.
The platform was eventually forced to stop its operations after receiving a number of cease and desist letters from two American securities regulators. At the time, the website had planned to stay live and continue operating its wallet platform. The website has since been taken offline and is seemingly inaccessible.