Maksim Zaslavskiy faces prison term over defrauding investors in two ICOs

Maria Nikolova

Maksim Zaslavskiy pleaded guilty on Thursday to conspiracy to commit securities fraud in connection with two Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs).

As US authorities step up their efforts to put an end to cryptocurrency related fraud, there has been some development in the proceedings against Maksim Zaslavskiy.

On Thursday, November 15, 2018, Zaslavskiy pleaded guilty before United States Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes, Jr. in federal court in Brooklyn to conspiracy to commit securities fraud in connection with two Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) – REcoin Group Foundation, LLC (REcoin) and DRC World, Inc., also known as Diamond Reserve Club (Diamond).

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney stated that “Investing often involves risk, but nobody should be at risk of being preyed upon by unscrupulous individuals. Zaslavskiy and his associates cloaked old-fashioned criminal schemes in the language of new currency in order to take advantage of investors, and as today’s conviction demonstrates, the FBI will continue to pursue any individual who seeks to profit by exploiting others.”

As he admitted at his guilty plea, Zaslavskiy fraudulently marketed RECoin as “The First Ever Cryptocurrency Backed by Real Estate,” and subsequently touted Diamond as an “exclusive and tokenized membership pool” hedged by diamonds. In fact, Zaslavskiy bought neither real estate nor diamonds, and the certificates he sent to investors were not backed by the promised blockchain technology.

Moreover, Zaslavskiy falsely advertised that REcoin had a “team of lawyers, professionals, brokers and accountants” who would invest the proceeds from the REcoin ICO into real estate, that 2.8 million REcoin tokens had been sold (only about 1,000 investors paid for REcoin tokens) and that the investment in Diamond tokens was “hedged by physical diamonds.”

Earlier this year, United States District Court Judge Raymond J. Dearie denied Zaslavskiy’s motion to dismiss the indictment. Zaslavskiy asserted that the securities laws did not apply to cryptocurrency offerings. The court upheld the validity of the laws, noting that “there can be no serious debate” that the indictment was sufficient. The court further held that a jury was entitled to decide if REcoin and Diamond tokens were securities. This is in line with rulings in similar cases.

“Stripped of the 21st-century jargon,” the court said, referring to Zaslavskiy’s ICO marketing solicitations, the indictment described a “scam, replete with common characteristics of many financial frauds.” The court added, “simply labeling an investment opportunity as ‘virtual currency’ or ‘cryptocurrency’ does not transform an investment contract—a security—into a currency,” and does not, therefore, remove the offerings from the ambit of securities law.

Zaslavskiy faces up to five years’ imprisonment. In addition to the criminal charges filed by this Office, the Securities and Exchange has filed civil charges against Zaslavskiy. The civil case was stayed pending resolution of the criminal matter.

Read this next

Retail FX

Italian watchdog red flags Olympus Brokers, UnicoFX and Allfina Group

Italy’s Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa (CONSOB) has shut down new websites in an ongoing clampdown against firms it accuses of illegally promoting investment products in the country.

Retail FX

XTB revenues hits zł1.45 billion in 2022, Q4 earnings disappoint

Poland-based Forex and CFDs broker, XTB has reported its final results for Q4 of 2022 and the full fiscal year ending on December 31, 2022, showing one of its most successful corporate years.

Executive Moves

Lirunex Limited recruits Waleed Salah as head of MENA sales

Maldives-based brokerage firm Lirunex Limited has secured the services of Waleed Salah, who joined the company in the role of its head of sales for the MENA region.

Executive Moves

Trading 212 parts ways with co-founder Borislav Nedialkov

Trading 212 has a void to fill at its FCA-regulated business in London, following the departure of two key players, Raj Somal and Borislav Nedialkov.

Digital Assets

Binance acquires troubled crypto exchange GOPAX

Binance, the world’s largest digital asset trading platform, has reportedly acquired a majority stake in the troubled South Korea-based cryptocurrency exchange GOPAX.

Digital Assets

Kraken exits Middle East, closes UAE office

Digital currency exchange Kraken will close down its operations in Abu Dhabi, UAE and lay off the majority of its team focused on the Middle East and North Africa.

Industry News

CFTC comments on ION Cleared Derivatives issues after Russian-linked hack

“The ongoing issue is impacting some clearing members’ ability to provide the CFTC with timely and accurate data. As this incident unfolded, it became clear that the submission of data that is required by registrants will be delayed until the trading issues are resolved.”

Industry News

FCA took down 14 times more misleading ads in 2022 thanks to technology

The FCA has made significant improvements to the digital tools it uses to find problem firms and misleading adverts. These improvements have enabled it to work through a much larger number of cases compared with 2021.

Executive Moves

HKEX appoints ex-Goldman Sachs Matthew Cheong to lead platform’s focus on derivatives

“He has worked for a number of the world’s leading investment banks and his experience will be invaluable to HKEX as we continue to enhance our derivatives product offerings and build on our innovative and robust platform business, connecting capital with opportunities.”

<