Norwegian Gaming Board mulls going after OneCoin affiliates
When a regulator tells OneCoin or one of its shell companies to stop operating in a country, OneCoin’s standard response is “but OneCoin doesn’t operate in that country!”.
Technically OneCoin operates out of Bulgaria, through a shell Dubai incorporation. OneCoin was incorporated in Gibraltar but was kicked out late last year.
In an effort to combat the ruse of not operating in a country despite soliciting investment from thousands of local investors, the Norwegian Gaming Board has announced it is considering going after local OneCoin affiliates.
The Norwegian Gaming Board has been trying to get answers from OneCoin for some time. Upon receiving complaints about the Ponzi scheme from the general public, the Gaming Board reached out to OneCoin last April.
As of last October the regulator had yet to receive a reply.
In February the Gaming Board sought permission to attend a local OneCoin recruitment event. Upon receiving no reply, the regulator attended the March event anyway.
We got an insight into how the business is produced in Norway. It was interesting, said senior investigator Silje Amble.
Through their lawyers, OneCoin have since responded to the Gaming Board’s request for clarification the company is aware of Norway’s anti-pyramid laws.
In a response letter to the Gaming Board, which was disclosed to E24, OneCoin said they have no business in Norway.
“The companies [Onecoin and Onelife, editor.] Have no business in Norway and no plans for it,” wrote lawyer Per Danielsen in his response to the query.
Danielsen doesn’t see OneCoin paying recruitment commissions as a pyramid scheme, instead he claims it’s a “misunderstanding”.
The Gaming Board though aren’t buying it.
The Gaming Board says this is totally irrelevant for their efforts to prevent pyramid scheme operations in Norway, and their right to put the company on the spot.
“There are many such companies that operated from abroad. But having no dedicated Norwegian branch is not an obstacle for us to scrutinize a company and possibly to cease activities that are illegal in Norway”, says Amble.
The Norwegian Lotteries Act prohibits the operation of pyramid schemes, as well as promotion of them in Norway.
To meet the definition of a pyramid scheme as per The Act, a company must derive fifty percent more of its revenue from affiliates.
OneCoin’s business model has no retail component and 100% of revenue is sourced from affiliates.
To confirm the operation of a pyramid scheme, the Gaming Board asks a company to provide a revenue breakdown.
When asked if the Gaming Board had done so with OneCoin, Amble replied
So far we have not done it. But I can not respond to what we do going forward.
What happens “going forward” with OneCoin in Norway might be interesting, following reports Norwegian authorities have contacted the Gaming Board for assistance.
As per their website,
Økokrim is the Norwegian National Authority for Investigation and Prosecution of Economic and Environmental Crime.
Recently Økokrim sent the Norwegian Gaming Board an inquiry about OneCoin. E24 tried to find out the specifics of the inquiry but Økokrim ‘did not want to say anything about‘ it.
In general Økokrim neither confirms or denies if we are investigating a case or not.
Beyond this, we have no comments, says Økokrim senior investigator Mads mill Kleppe.
Other than acknowledging receipt of the inquiry, the Gaming Board aren’t discussing it either.