The CEO of Arbistar, the Spanish investment company, Santiago Fuentes, has been arrested and brought to justice for fraud, membership of a criminal organization and money laundering. Fuentes, who has been in hiding since September, was arrested at one of his properties in southern Tenerife.
The diagram of the pyramid of Arbistar
Fuentes’ arrest stems from lawsuits brought by Arbistar clients who allege pyramid fraud after the bitcoin trading company abruptly froze accounts, leaving 32,000 families affected.
In a hearing, the Arona (Tenerife) investigating court n ° 3 described the operations of Arbistar de Fuentes as a “potential pyramid scheme”. The court released the CEO “on bail without bail” but ordered the withdrawal of his passport. In addition, Fuentes has to appear at Arona courts every two weeks.
Meanwhile, despite widespread speculation in Spanish media that $ 1 billion is missing, Judge Javier García Ramila warns that “at the moment it is premature to estimate the amount of possible fraud, given that the The exact number of customers who have subscribed to the offered product is unknown. “
The Spanish court specifies that it is pursuing the case against Fuentes only on the basis of 21 complaints lodged in “police stations and civil guard barracks in Tenerife, La Palma, Malaga, Huelva, Granada, Mallorca and Lugo” . The total value of missing funds in the 21 reported cases is approximately $ 367,000.
Meanwhile, describing the operations of the Fuentes organization, court documents say:
Arbistar offered its clients computer tools (“bots”) that automatically executed buy and sell orders on the cryptocurrency brokerage markets, thus guaranteeing them a revaluation of their savings of between 8% and 15%.
However, the documents indicate that the Bitcoin investment firm’s offer is on the condition that “during a reasonable two-month grace period, clients would not be able to cash out their money.”
Therefore, in conclusions based on their findings, the investigators claim that “it was possible to attest that the aforementioned product could really be a pyramid scam.” The investigators add that “instead of executing the investment made in the various virtual markets and rewarding the old customers with the profits obtained”, Arbistar seems to have financed the profit payments with deposits brought by new customers.
Possible money laundering discovered
Investigators also claim to have uncovered possible money laundering activity involving Venus Capital Trade SL, a shell company that allegedly received $ 1.32 million from Arbistar.
Meanwhile, Judge Ramila, who refuses to impose more punitive restrictions on Fuentes, says he “now has to examine countless documents and electronic devices and work with banks to trace the funds of embezzled customers.” Nevertheless, the judge says he is open to the imposition of “heavier measures” against Fuentes.
Fuentes faces up to 16 years in prison if convicted.
What do you think of the provisional release of Fuentes without bail? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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