A Latvian national has been handed over to the United States where he is accused of fraud through several companies offering false crypto investment opportunities. Ivars Auzins will appear in a federal court in Brooklyn to face multiple charges of wire and securities fraud.
Latvian Authorities Transfer Alleged Crypto Fraudster to US Custody
Ivars Auzins, a citizen of the small Baltic nation of Latvia, was extradited to the United States on Friday. The Latvian has been handed over to the American judiciary on a six-count indictment charging him with wire fraud, securities fraud, and conspiracies to commit wire and securities fraud in connection with the operation of eight businesses that purported to offer, invest in, or mine digital assets.
Auzins will be arraigned on the indictment on Saturday in a federal court in Brooklyn before the Honorable Roanne L. Mann., the U.S. Department of Justice said in a press release. The charges were announced by United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Breon Peace and Michael J. Driscoll, assistant director-in-charge of the New York Field Office of the FBI:
Auzins perpetrated a brazen scheme in which he fleeced investors who funneled millions of dollars into fraudulent cryptocurrency. This Office will continue to vigorously investigate and prosecute those who lie and steal from investors, including those like the defendant who operate from abroad.
According to the indictment, the Latvian allegedly ran several companies, the “Auzins Entities,” which advertised through email campaigns, social media, and websites dedicated to cryptocurrencies. They suggested valuable investment opportunities and solicited investments before suddenly disappearing.
Two of these, Denaro and Bitroad, raised funds through initial coin offerings (ICOs). Impressio Estate, Broi Investments (Bankroi), Changepro, Gemneon Investments, and Lycovest presented themselves as crypto investment platforms providing different investment plans and profit rates. Innovamine offered investments in mining a number of coins, including bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH).
Auzins and his co-conspirators allegedly enticed investors to put money into their projects through a series of material misrepresentations and omissions about the offered products and services, the profits that investors would earn by investing in the Auzins Entities, and the individuals who operated them.
Between approximately November 2017 and July 2019, individuals in the United States and other jurisdictions transferred at least $7 million in digital assets to Auzins’s companies. Shortly after receiving these investments, these entities disappeared without providing their promised services, the DOJ pointed out.
The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs worked with Latvian law enforcement agencies to secure the arrest and extradition of Ivars Auzins to the United States, and the U.S. Marshals Service carried out the extradition, the announcement details. The New York Regional Office of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission assisted the investigation.
Auzins’s transfer to the U.S. comes after the recent extraditions of two Russian nationals accused by American authorities of crypto-related crime. Last week, the Netherlands transferred 29-year-old Denis Dubnikov, who is accused of laundering proceeds of ransomware attacks on individuals and organizations in the United States, including hospitals and healthcare providers. Earlier this month, Greece extradited 42-year-old Alexander Vinnik, alleged operator of BTC-e, who allegedly laundered at least $4 billion through the now-defunct digital asset exchange.
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Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Eastern Europe who likes Hitchens’s quote: “Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.
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