2 charged over scheme linked to purported cryptocurrency

Two Singaporean company directors from different firms have been taken to court after they allegedly promoted a multi-level marketing scheme involving a purported cryptocurrency known as OneCoin.

In a statement yesterday, the police said this is the first case of its kind. "The supposed cryptocurrency OneCoin is purportedly founded by a Bulgarian, and has several features that are similar to bitcoin. Several countries, including New Zealand, have issued warnings to the members of the public against having involvement with OneCoin."

The statement said the United States has termed OneCoin a fraudulent cryptocurrency and charged people in connection with OneCoin.

Lim Yoong Fook, 47, who is the director of Singapore-based interior decoration firm One Concept, was charged yesterday with two offences under the Multi-Level Marketing and Pyramid Selling (Prohibition) Act.

The other man, Fok Fook Seng, 51, who is the director of locally registered companies, including wholesale trading firm A Roboclean (S), faces one charge under the same Act.

According to court documents, the pair allegedly promoted a scheme in which participants were compensated under an initiative known as the OneLife Network Global Compensation Plan.

Lim is said to have committed the offence between June 2015 and June 2017, while Fok allegedly did so from April 2016 to June 2017.

The police said local residents took part in the scheme by buying online educational courses bundled with "promotional tokens". These tokens could then be used to "mine" OneCoin. "Mining" is the term used to describe the mathematical calculations and other processes required to maintain the cryptocurrency.

Court documents did not reveal details about the scheme or the number of participants and amounts of cash involved.

Lim is also accused of incorporating One Concept to promote the multi-level marketing scheme.

The police said the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has listed OneCoin and One Concept on the Investor Alert List (IAL).

"The IAL is a non-exhaustive list of unregulated entities who may have been wrongly perceived as being licensed or authorised by the MAS... The fact that a company is listed on the IAL does not necessarily mean that it has breached any of MAS' regulations.

"However, investors should bear in mind that these entities have had a past record of being wrongly perceived by others as being licensed by the MAS when they are not."

Lim was offered bail of $60,000 while Fok's bail was set at $30,000. They will be back in court on May 8.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2019, with the headline 2 charged over scheme linked to purported cryptocurrency. Subscribe