Friday, October 23, 2020

Political lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleads guilty to cryptocurrency ICO fraud

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Notorious political lobbyist Jack Abramoff has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to defraud investors, conspiring to commit wire fraud, and violations of the Lobbying Disclosure Act relating to the 2018 initial coin offering (ICO) for AML BitCoin.

Abramoff pleaded guilty by telephone on July 14, admitting to having defrauded millions from investors through the ICO. The plea marks the first prosecution of a lobbyist for a criminal violation of the Lobbying Disclosure Act.

AML BitCoin’s founder Rowland Marcus Andrade is currently fighting criminal charges relating to the crypto offering, having entered a plea of not guilty on July 8.

Abramoff was hired by Andrade to develop a public relations and marketing campaign for the ICO, through which he admits to distributing false and misleading information regarding the technical capabilities and development of the crypto asset.

AML BitCoin raised $5.6 million

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Prosecutors assert that Abramoff and Andrade took in $5.6 million from more than 2,400 investors through their Nevada-based National AtenCoin Foundation, or NAC — the entity through which the ICO was conducted.

Around July 2017, NAC began issuing tokens to purportedly raise funds for the development of AML BitCoin — promising investors that the tokens would be exchangeable for AML BitCoins when the coin launched within six months.

AML BitCoin was promoted on social platforms and forums as a superior version of Bitcoin (BTC) that offered integrated protections against money-laundering, terrorist financing, and theft risks, according to a parallel investigation launched by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC noted that none of the touted capabilities existed.

Abramoff sentenced to six years in 2006

While working for AML BitCoin, Abramoff was also found to have lobbied a sitting member of Congress on behalf of a Californian cannabis company despite not being a registered lobbyist.

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Prosecutors assert that Abramoff also lobbied a member of congress on behalf of an undercover FBI agent posing as a businessperson during the same period.

Abramoff rose to prominence as a conservative lobbyist during the 1990s, and was sentenced to prison in 2006 after pleading guilty to felony counts relating to illicit lobbying practices.

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