Prosecution’s closing in Samoa uFun Club case
Following the logic fail of defense attorney Leota Schuster, who argued that pyramid schemes should be legalized, now comes the prosecution’s closing arguments.
Deception has become a primary issue in the criminal case, with both the defense and prosecution addressing it.
Whereas the defense argued that no deception had taken place because those deceived didn’t acknowledge they were deceived, the prosecution argued
the trio accused knew that the company UFun Group they represented had been closed down, yet they encouraged investors to invest in the company’s UToken packages.
The presentations themselves were made in May, a month after uFun Club was shut down by regulators in Thailand.
The accused were encouraging investors to invest on a company that did not exist anymore, said Prosecutor Leone Sua.
The arrests were accompanied by raids of uFun Club offices, which saw management flee to Malaysia and the opportunity, as uFun Club, cease to exist.
Prosecution focused on 2 elements relevant in proving the alleged deceit, and includes, false information with intent to defraud and the legitimacy of the UToken currency marketed by the accused.
Purportedly, Nicolas Giannos and Rosita Stanfield were running around telling Samoans that their uFun Club ROI would ‘be tenfold in a short period of time‘.
“However, there was no mention of the fact that the company they represented has ceased operation,” said Ms. Sua.
According to the prosecution, the deception lies in Giannos and Stanield’s knowing of the Thai uFun Club raids, ‘yet, they were still marketing the packages in Samoa.‘
The false statement given to the investors was with the intention to defraud them.
Second to deceit was a defraud charge, related to the value of uFun Club’s uToken outside of the scheme.
As is common with most MLM cryptocurrencies, the altcoin used functions as a point system to track affiliate investment.
Each point is given a value determined by the company, with affiliates only able to obtain the points via direct investment or the recruitment of new investors.
The general public are unable to independently obtain the coin outside of the attached income opportunity, which goes hand in hand with the points unable to be used for third-party transactions.
These traits differentiate MLM cryptocurrencies from legitimate offerings such as BitCoin, with uFun Club’s uTokens being a prime example.
In raising discussion on this issue in relation to defraud charges, the prosecution relied on testimony from a Thai Police General.
The General’s evidence noted that the UToken currency promoted by the accused was not a legitimate currency in Thailand.
The Police General claimed that Thailand, where the UFun Group operates from does not accept the UToken currency.
Evidence presented to the Court stated that Central Banks (sic) does not accept the currency.
Yet Giannos and Stanfield had told Samoan investors that uFun Club’s ‘uToken currency is accepted worldwide‘.
That wasn’t the strangest claim Giannos and Stanfield were pitching though…
The accused claimed that the headquarters for the UFun Group they represent is based in the United Kingdom.
Huh? uFun Club is based out of the UK???
There was some chatter about a proposed IPO offering in the UK, but regulators were quick to investigate. Nothing further ever eventuated.
the print out of the accused business card says that UFun Group operates only in the Asian region.
Pushed further, the accused claimed that UFun Group members are “spreading out” to which prosecution claimed as “untrue”.
Prosecution referred to CBS Assistant Governor, Magele Philip Penn’s testimony, where he said, that there was no sense in the claim, that the Central Bank in Europe monitors the activities of the group (UFun Group) that operates only in Asia.
“The Central Bank in Thailand should be the one monitoring these activities,” claimed Mr. Penn.
Of course with uFun Club being a Ponzi scheme, no bank is going to accept uTokens – but the claims of the investors accused still need to be addressed.
Further evidence that Giannos and Stanfield were scamming by deception is revealed in what they actually did with the close to a million dollars Samoans invested with them.
The accused could not advise CBS on the name of the bank they have an account with.
Evidence before the Court stated that the accused were asked to provide the name of their bank, but “one of the accused said they use several banks but they were transiting with banks.”
“The accused were asking people to invest, yet, they did not know which bank they were with,” said Ms. Sua.
Prosecution also reminded the Court of an incident where one of the investors thought his money would be sent through CBS, unaware that the accused have already opened an account with ANZ where the money would be deposited into.
“Oh yes yes, don’t worry. The CBS are totally on board but we just need to accept your investments into our private bank account.”
And what happened to the money after that?
Fa’atali Peti of ANZ bank claimed that on the 18 and 19 of May 2015, the accused remitted funds overseas as a gift to one of the accused’s wife and children.
It was laundered overseas as “a gift”, in the hopes of avoiding regulatory attention.
“The deception was remitting the monies as a gift but not as investment,” claimed prosecution.
Not only that, but even the wire forms used and basic interactions with the ANZ bank were based on calculated deception.
Prosecution also claimed the information on the telegraphic transfer (TT) form were false.
Mr. Peti also said that the accused only came to do business in the bank “close to cut off time which is 3.00pm.”
“The accused timing was deliberate to avoid any questions from the bank,” said Ms. Sua.
This raised the suspicion of ANZ, who ‘alerted CBS’ and denied any more transfers overseas.
ANZ advised Giannos and Stanfield to take up the matter with CBS, but ‘instead they went to Samoa Commercial Bank and tried to open another account‘.
Prosecution also admitted that none of the 8 investors lodged any complaints in the case, however, under section 2 of the Crime Ordinance Act, police can file a case based on suspicious cause.
“Your Honour, that is our submission and there is sufficient evidence to proceed further with the case,” said Ms. Sua.
Unable to sit by while his defense was destroyed in court,
Leota Raymond Schuster tried to use the “right to reply” aspect of the law to raise a few points.
Despite there being no ‘provision under the law for right to reply in a no case to answer trial’, CJ Patu permitted Schuster to have the final word.
Defense was quick to point out and remind the Court that prosecution’s argument was based on the Thailand general’s evidence which he believes should be omitted.
Why legitimate testimony from an investigating officer in Thailand should be omitted as evidence was not disclosed.
CJ Patu noted the argument and said his decision on the ‘no case to answer’ application will be delivered tomorrow.