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Central Bank puts OneCoin users under scrutiny

A number of Samoan individuals, two churches and some money transfer operators have come under the scrutiny of the Central Bank of Samoa (C.B.S.).

And they could be charged if the authorities conclude that they facilitated workshops promoting cryptocurrency or engaged in transactions using the illegal currency in breach of local Samoan laws.

The Central Bank said in a statement that a 124-page report it recently received from the New Zealand Financial Intelligence Unit (N.Z.F.I.U.), revealed that due to Samoa banning all OneCoin transactions in Samoa in May last year, local investors abandoned Samoa’s financial system and used New Zealand’s to do their business and transfers.

The N.Z.F.U.I. estimated that NZD$3.5 million was transferred out of New Zealand as part of those transactions and two large churches – which originated in Samoa and have branches in Australia and New Zealand – used the OneCoin operations.

“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 N.Z.F.I.U. 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 CBS statement read.

The two churches have been named as the Worship Center and S.I.S.D.A.C. (Samoan Independent Seventh Day Adventist Church).

The Central Bank statement did not name the Samoan individuals or the money transfer operators who are implicated, but warned that the offence for money laundering in Samoa carries a maximum penalty of 15 years imprisonment or a maximum fine of $1 million or both. 

“There are a number of Samoan individuals implicated in the report, and they have conducted transactions using either Samoan, Australian or NZ banks.  These individuals are currently under scrutiny and potential investigation.

“Some of our money transfer operators have also been implicated, which we will not be naming at present. However, we will be monitoring them closely and considering whether further action may be taken in light of the detailed report by N.Z.F.I.U., which is a confirmation of the information that we already possess,” the statement added.

The Central Bank also warned that hotels or organisations that hosted cryptocurrency investment workshops without its prior approval could also face criminal proceedings. 

Anyone needing more information should contact telephone numbers 34-121 or 34-194..

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