US govt refuses to reveal identities of all victims of binary options scam operated by Lee Elbaz

Maria Nikolova

The Government says the request by the former CEO of Yukom Communications constitutes legally baseless efforts to gain improper pretrial tactical advantages.

The United States Government has refused to reveal the identities of all victims of the fraudulent scheme operated by Lee Elbaz – the former CEO of Israel-based Yukom Communications, a purported binary options sales and marketing company operating on behalf of BinaryBook and BigOption.

In a document filed with the Maryland District Court on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, the Government replies negatively to a request for the so-called bill of particulars (a request for more detailed information) by Ms Elbaz. According to her, “the Indictment fails to provide the names of those who are allegedly victims of the charged offenses”. The defense says “the identities of these unnamed individuals are essential for purposes of trial preparation because only with that information will Ms. Elbaz be able to assess the Government’s case”.

On Wednesday, the Government replied that the motions should be denied because they are not properly supported by the law and, in fact, constitute legally baseless efforts to gain improper pretrial tactical advantages.

According to the US authorities, Elbaz’s arguments in support of her much broader request – for the identities of “any other alleged victims of the charged offenses” – are meritless. She claims that this information is necessary “for purposes of trial preparation” in order “to assess the Government’s case,” but the Fourth Circuit has made clear that this is not the proper function of a bill of particulars: A bill of particulars is only appropriate “to fairly apprise the defendant of the charges against her so that she may adequately prepare a defense and avoid surprise at trial,” not “to provide detailed disclosure of the government’s evidence in advance of trial.”

At its core, Elbaz’s request for the Government to identify each actual or intended victim of the defendant’s scheme is said to be little more than an effort to impose upon the Government a burdensome, unnecessary, and time-consuming exercise, and to gain early access to the Government’s potential witnesses nearly half a year before trial. The purpose of a bill of particulars is not to provide the defense with advance pretrial disclosure of the government’s evidence. Accordingly, the defendant’s request should be denied, the Government says.

According to the Indictment, Yukom provided investor “retention” services for two websites, known as BinaryBook and BigOption, promoting and marketing binary options, and those binary options were fraudulently sold and marketed. The indictment further alleges that in her role as CEO of Yukom, Elbaz, along with her co-conspirators and subordinates, misled investors using BinaryBook and BigOption by falsely claiming to represent the interests of investors but that, in fact, the owners of BinaryBook and BigOption profited when investors lost money.

From in or about May 2014 through in or about June 2017, Elbaz was an employee of Yukom and served in various capacities, including as Chief Executive Officer from at least in or about March 2016 through December 2016. During the detention hearing of Elbaz, her counsel stated that “CEO in Israel may not mean the same thing here” and that she used the designation to simply to “make the customers feel important”.

The case is captioned USA v. Elbaz (8:18-cr-00157).

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