Samoa’s central bank issues warning about OneCoin operations

A number of Samoans are under scrutiny and potential investigation for conducting business and transfers using OneCoin operations.

According to the Central Bank of Samoa, two large churches and some Money Transfer Operators in Samoa have used the OneCoin operations.

CBS said it recently received a spontaneous intelligence report from the New Zealand Financial Intelligence Unit (NZFIU) regarding the OneCoin operations.

The report said OneCoin is labelled as a “Hybrid Ponzi-Pyramid Scheme” because the scam contains ingredients of both types of scams – Ponzi Scheme and Pyramid Scheme.

According to the report, because of the CBS prohibition on all OneCoin transactions in May 2018, NZFIU have formulated the view that this propelled the financial problem in NZ.

“That is, OneCoin has circumvented Samoa’s financial system (because of our blockages on all OneCoin transactions at all Financial Institutions in 2018), and have opted to use the NZ Financial System to conduct their businesses and transfers.”

The NZFIU has estimated that $3.5m NZD was transferred out of New Zealand.

The intelligence report said the target of OneCoin is through the churches.

“There are two large churches that were used in OneCoin operations. These two Churches, although originated in Samoa, have branches in New Zealand and Australia, thereby affecting the Pasefika community. This is why NZFIU have formulated the view that public education on the issue would be futile because the Church Ministers are the promoters, and they are held out to be trustworthy, hence, people of the congregation will follow suit.”

The report also said a number of Samoan individuals are implicated and they have conducted transactions using either Samoan, Australian or NZ banks.

“These individuals are currently under scrutiny and potential investigation. The offence of money laundering is now a maximum of 15 years imprisonment, or a maximum fine of $1 million tala, or a combination of both.”

The Central Bank of Samoa said it will not at this stage name the Money Transfer Operators implicated.

“However, we will be monitoring them closely and considering whether further action may be taken in light of the detailed report by NZFIU, which is a confirmation of the information that we already possess.”

The central bank warns that any person or organization or entity that conducts any cryptocurrency/investment presentations, workshops or dealings without the prior approval of the Central Bank, commits and offence and may be subject to criminal prosecutions and convictions to a fine and/or an imprisonment term.