Crypto promoter pleads guilty to providing unlicensed financial services

ASIC crypto unlicensed advice

20 May 2024
| By Rhea Nath |
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An NSW individual has pleaded guilty to one criminal charge of providing unlicensed financial services after promoting crypto investments at national seminars.

John Louis Anthony Bigatton of Carss Park, NSW, pleaded guilty to one criminal charge relating to his role as national promoter of online cryptocurrency platform BitConnect.

He appeared before the Sydney District Court on 16 May 2024 and pleaded guilty to providing unlicensed financial services on behalf of another person contrary to section 911B(1) of the Corporations Act.

ASIC said Bigatton allegedly undertook promotional activities for BitConnect and the Lending Platform on social media, at seminars that he hosted in various locations around Australia, and through face-to- face meetings with investors.

ASIC alleged that between August 2017 and January 2018, Bigatton provided unlicensed financial product advice and engaged in conduct, in relation to financial products and financial services, which was misleading or deceptive or was likely to mislead or deceive, in connection with his promotion of BitConnect and the Lending Platform.

BitConnect was a financial service business and an online cryptocurrency platform offering investment opportunities through its website, including a financial product known as the Lending Platform. The Lending Platform was promoted as an investment opportunity and in order to participate, investors were required to acquire BitConnect coin (BCC), a cryptocurrency token offered by BitConnect through its website.

The Lending Platform permitted lenders to invest or “loan” BCC for fixed terms in exchange for promised high interest rates. Investors did not control their loans once invested, nor could they withdraw their capital investment until the expiry of the lending period.

Previously, Bigatton had been banned by ASIC in 2020 from providing financial services for seven years. This was in relation to his role as the Australian National Representative of BitConnect and BitConnect Lending Platform.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled to take place on 5 July 2024.

Following the guilty plea, a related charge of operating an unregistered managed investment scheme was withdrawn.

The matter is being prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions after an investigation and referral by ASIC.

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