According to Radio New Zealand, New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs is investigating the Auckland branch of the Samoan Independent Seventh Day Adventist Church (SISDAC) over investments it made in OneCoin.
SISDAC’s chief executive officer, Willie Papu, publicly confessed that the church invested $NZ3.5 million ($US 2.3 million) into OneCoin, perhaps the most infamous scam ever associated with the crypto industry.
OneCoin is not illegal in New Zealand, so the precise focus of the investigation remains unclear.
The Samoan church was already the subject of a probe by the Central Bank of Samoa.
This was over suspicion that they had violated the country’s anti-money laundering laws by helping OneCoin funnel millions into the country. It’s illegal to buy or sell OneCoin in Samoa.
In late April, the organization’s global executive secretary, Pastor Iafeta Masipau, claimed that only the New Zealand branch was involved with OneCoin and not the Samoan branch:
“The (S.I.S.D.A.C.) church in New Zealand is involved but not us in Samoa,” he said, adding that “there might be some individuals from the church (members)” that invested in the cryptocurrency scam.
The denials came even as reports revealed that the bank accounts of SISDAC’s Samoan branch had been explicitly targeted in connection with the money laundering probe.
Besides Samoa and New Zealand, OneCoin also shilled its cryptocurrency scam to churches in Africa, including Uganda’s OneLight Church.
In classic pyramid scheme fashion, members of OneLight Church were lured with promises of high unrealistic returns that would turn their lives around. Who delivered the pitch? None other than OneCoin leader Konstantin Ignatov.
Ignatov was later arrested by U.S. authorities.
Last month, Ignatov entered a not guilty plea in a New York court on charges of wire fraud.
After his arrest, OneCoin issued an unsigned statement on its website urging the press to:
“refrain from speculation and judgment on the U.S. investigation until more information becomes available.”
While OneCoin seemed to be taking issue with the “scam” label, there are several inaccuracies or misleading statements on its website that raise suspicions about its already-tarnished credibility. For instance, its FAQ page states OneCoin was the “second largest” cryptocurrency in the world in 2016.
At no time has OneCoin achieved this feat.
For starters, it is not listed on any reputable crypto exchange. There’s a simple reason for this: the “cryptocurrency” does not exist on any public and verifiable blockchain.
This article was edited by Josiah Wilmoth.