TALLINN - Estonian company sellers are distressing scam victims in Europe -- even though the legal entity and the fame resulting from scam operations remain in Estonia, catching the actual criminals is nearly impossible, Postimees reports.
A group of fraudsters recently caught the attention of the French authorities for stealing at least 40-58 million euros from people interested in investment, with the common feature in the cases being a company founded in Estonia. A company by the name of RR Crypto was still generating large profits this spring for hopefuls in France interested in investing in crypto assets. In June, a problem appeared -- the head of the company Vincent Ropiot told the company's customers that they are unable to access their money due to the activities of Binance -- one of the largest cryptocurrency exchange platforms.
Talks of technical problems usually indicate that the crypto scammers are planning to pack up their business, according to Postimees. Soon it was clear that 40 to 58 million euros of the investors' money was gone. The France Bleu radio stations network reported that the sums ranged from 500 euros to 350,000 euros per person. The case was handed over to the court of Dijon and an investigation is ongoing.
The French media began probing the people who managed to "lose" such a large amount of money, and Journal du Coin, an online news portal focused on cryptocurrency news, discovered that while it was a French company behind RR Crypto, its leading figures also owned a business in Estonia -- RoiRising Crypto OU, which, founded in October 2019, still operates today. The company was founded by another Estonian firm, Eesti Firma OU, the main activity of which is founding and offering companies.
The sale of companies is not forbidden by law; however, the authorities find it problematic that the companies are sold together will their licenses, particularly those pertaining to cryptocurrencies.
In November 2019, the management board of the Estonian company RoiRising Crypto OU was supplemented by new members -- the head of RR Crypto, Vincent Ropiot, as well as Matthieu Descante Nazareth and Arnaud Chaurin. The company has yet to generate any taxable revenue. In March this year, the management board gained another member -- Karmo Neider.
According to the information register, Neider is a member in close to 30 companies' management boards, which also include a number of foreign nationals from all over the world. The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) told Postimees that the activities of Neider and his French associates are known to the FIU and the company's license has now been revoked.
Neider's name is not unfamiliar to the authorities, particularly foreign ones, according to the FIU. In August last year, the Financial Intelligence Unit of the United Kingdom issued an announcement warning against the Bleaxmond trading platform managed by AlephLink Solutions Ltd OU, the management board of which also includes Karmo Neider.
Even though Estonian authorities are revoking licenses by the ton, scammers remain undeterred. Spokesman for the FIU Erki Peegel said that even checking if the company has an activity license does little to help discover scammers. Determining if a license has been issued to a company is easy. Finding out if the firm's license has been revoked, however, is much more complicated as one needs to dig deep into the document register, making sense of which is at times difficult even for Estonians, let alone foreigners.
Investigation in the scam is underway and the authorities will probably want to know soon if and how much money may have been moved around through the Estonian company. The court trial in the case will start in two years at the earliest, according to the French media.