Extradition requested for “high value target” in forex fraud case
Police confirmed on Tuesday that Cyprus had received a request from Germany for the extradition of a permanent resident of the island arrested last month in connection with a cross-border commercial fraud investigation involving Europol.
Spokesman Christos Andreou told the Cyprus Mail that the extradition case had been filed with a court in Limassol. The suspect, a foreign national residing here, was arrested in early October on the basis of a European arrest warrant.
He has since been released from custody, pending the outcome of the extradition hearings.
The spokesperson could not confirm whether the case was linked to reports of the suspension of operations of two investment companies licensed by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC).
But the suspect’s case in Cyprus is known to be linked to a multi-country investigation into fraudulent binary options trading.
The Cyprus Mail understands that the suspect threatened with extradition is a German-Israeli.
In an October 11 press release, Europol said it supported an operation by Cypriot, Bulgarian, German, Dutch and Ukrainian authorities to dismantle an organized criminal group involved in commercial fraud.
The group was originally an online financial services trading platform with binary options. Europol has set up an operational task force to support the cross-border investigation.
According to Europol, the “day of action” of October 6 in Limassol, Kiev and Sofia led to eight house searches (five in Bulgaria, one in Cyprus, two in Ukraine), 17 people questioned in Bulgaria and one “large target. agreed value In Cyprus. “
Seizures included phones, electronics, bank accounts and data backups
Operating between May 2019 and September 2021, the criminal network tricked German investors into making deals with a total value of at least € 15 million, Europol said.
“The initial profits shown in the user interface encouraged customers to invest large sums of money. However, customers did not receive payment for their earnings or credit balance once requested. The investigation has so far led to 246 criminal proceedings in 15 German Länder.
Media reports here in Cyprus have linked this investigation to the suspension of operations of two Limassol-based investment companies.
Citing industry sources, the Financial Mirror said at least two companies were under investigation for connections to the ring.
On October 15, CySEC announced that it had “totally suspended” the investment business licenses of Limassol-based Maxiflex Ltd and Maxigrid Ltd.
CySEC stated that the companies appear to be conducting business and / or being engaged in the conduct of business and / or facilitating activities not mentioned in its authorization.
As such, Maxiflex and Maxigrid have been prohibited from providing and carrying out investment services or activities, from entering into any commercial transaction with anyone and from accepting any new client. Both entities have had one month to comply with CySEC requirements.
Meanwhile, the Financial Mirror said that as a result, more than 2,000 people employed in the local forex industry are now unemployed.
The outlet also claimed that an Israeli linked to a Cyprus-based currency exchange firm was arrested in October at the request of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
“The arrest is believed to be linked to 26 acts by US and Israeli authorities. In a joint operation, the FBI and Israel Police raided a Tel Aviv-based company and arrested 26 Israelis suspected of being involved in organized financial fraud, ”the Financial Mirror reported.
This could not be independently verified on Tuesday.
In a generic statement on Tuesday, CySEC itself said all companies under its supervision are listed on its website and urged investors to check the database.
“Wherever illegal activities are tracked, CySEC takes appropriate measures and measures to protect the interests of investors and ensure the proper functioning and integrity of the market,” the statement said.
Apparently alluding to media reports that thousands of people have been made redundant in the industry, CySEC spoke of “wrong or misleading impressions”.
The supervisory authority noted that a total of 5,895 people were employed by investment firms registered in Cyprus at the end of June of this year.