In a bizarre ruling, two OneCoin Ponzi scammers in Germany have been acquitted.
As told by SBS Legal, the law firm representing the scammers, the case against the scammers confirmed that those recruited ‘were or are only interested in the cryptocurrency OneCoin.’
This is an important point, because it cemented OneCoin being a pyramid scheme under German law.
From their own press-release it sounds as if SBS Legal argued OneCoin wasn’t a pyramid scheme. Subsequently the law firm sought an acquittal for their clients.
Prosecutors pushed for six to eight months prison time.
Upon consideration of filed evidence, the court acquitted the defendants.
SBS Legal claim a determining factor was their commissioned 2015 legal opinion. We covered the leaked document earlier this year.
In a nutshell, SBS Legal (then Schulenberg and Schenk) rubber-stamped OneCoin’s Ponzi business model.
Just a note on the name-change, in response to our article Stephan Schulenberg got in touch to advise that Schulenberg and Schenk and SBS Legal were operating as two different entities.
This despite SBS Legal and Schulenberg and Schenk having the same attorneys and operating out of the same corporate address.
SBS Legal’s June 10th article refers to the Schulenberg and Schenk’s legal opinion as “prepared by our law firm”, so it seems they’ve dropped that facade.
Getting back to the acquittal, SBS Legal states;
The court further stated that the two accused were also acquitted in the event that the legal assessment indicated that there was a pyramid scheme.
Because both (defendants) had read our law firm’s report before starting their work for Onecoin sales, which resulted in a so-called inevitable mistake in accordance with. Section 17 of the Criminal Code , which leads to impunity.
Section 17 of the German Criminal Code states:
If the perpetrator lacks the insight to do wrong when committing the act, he acts without guilt if he could not avoid this mistake.
If the perpetrator was able to avoid the error, the punishment can bereduced inaccordance with Section 49 (1).
So back in 2015 Schulenberg and Schenk published a legal opinion claiming OneCoin’s Ponzi scheme was legitimate.
The defendants allegedly read the report and based on the representation OneCoin was legitimate, proceeded to scam people through the Ponzi scheme.
Five years later the same law firm, as SBS Legal, defends the scammers on the basis they aren’t liable for criminal conduct because they relied on a report prepared by themselves.
And despite Schulenberg and Schenk’s legal opinion being deeply flawed, a German court bought it.
I think this might be the biggest /facepalm of the OneCoin saga I’ve seen yet.
Other reasons cited by SBS Legal for the acquittal are
the remuneration system as a whole is designed in such a way that the progressive elements vis-à-vis those of product sales would clearly recede.
In addition, there would be real demand for the cryptocurrency OneCoin, which is completely independent of the possibility of mutating from a customer to a sales partner. This was also shown by the taking of evidence.
Demand for OneCoin outside of the Ponzi scheme? Yeah there is none.
This is clearly demonstrable by OneCoin collapsing after ROI withdrawals were blocked from January 2017.
As for “product sales” within OneCoin, there weren’t any. Affiliates signed up, invested in OneCoin Ponzi points and got paid to recruit others who did the same.
That’s literally all there was to the business with respect to the MLM opportunity. A bunch of pseudo-compliance garbage was added, but none of it negated or justified the Ponzi scheme.
What’s even more bizarre about the court’s ruling, is German prosecutors had access to copious amounts of evidence presented in parallel US proceedings.
To date there have been three OneCoin related guilty pleas and a conviction in the US, supported by thousands of pages of evidence.
Within Germany itself, BaFin banned OneCoin nationally for committing securities fraud in 2017.
At the time BaFin cited OneCoin as “one of the most dangerous money games of recent years”.
How did German prosecutors bungle this case up so badly?
I don’t know if there’s an appeals process for the ruling but if so hopefully one is filed.
Meanwhile SBS Legal are celebrating their efforts in assisting OneCoin scammers evade the law.
Handling the case were SBS Legal attorneys Stephan R. Schulenberg and Moritz Braun.
In addition to rubber-stamping the Ponzi scheme through a commissioned legal opinion, SBS Legal has ties to OneCoin through founder Ruja Ignatova.
Update 13th October 2021 – This article originally included a link to SBS Legal’s website where the firm celebrated its role “in assisting OneCoin scammers (to) evade the law”.
As at the time of this update, SBS Legal has pulled that article. As such I’ve had to disable the previously accessible link.