Samoa Investigates Church After OneCoin Defied Legal Ban to Sell Products to Investors
Members of a local church ended up buying into the Ponzi scheme after a sales pitch, the central bank confirms.
A church in the Pacific nation of Samoa is at the center of scrutiny after ministers invited notorious cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme OneCoin to preach to its congregation, New Zealand-based media network Radio NZ reported on April 26.
OneCoin, which is now all but defunct after the indictment of both its masterminds, raised hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide by luring investors with the promise of huge returns.
Samoa’s central bank banned any activities involving the scheme in 2018, but representatives nonetheless succeeded in approaching the Samoa Worship Centre and pitched their likely fraudulent investment product to members.
A number of attendees then purchased OneCoin investments, including at least one minister, Radio NZ says.
“A lot of people in Samoa invested in it, not just the church members. Everybody in the public,” the network quotes a local resident — who himself invested 1100 NZD ($731) — as saying.
The Samoa Central Bank confirmed that an investigation was ongoing into the recent events.
As Cointelegraph reported, one of the scheme’s founders, Konstantin Ignatov, is now at the center of a United States law enforcement investigation, while his sister, Ruja, remains at large.
“Based on the information that has been made public by the U.S. authorities, we understand that they are investigating allegations of conspiracy to commit wire fraud,” a OneCoin statement from March reads.
The same month, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney General further charged OneCoin’s lawyer with conspiracy to commit wire fraud.