SINGAPORE - 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 on Wednesday (April 10), 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 added that the United States has termed OneCoin a fraudulent cryptocurrency and charged persons in connection with OneCoin.
Lim Yoong Fook, 47, who is the director of Singapore-based interior decoration firm One Concept, was charged on Wednesday 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.
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" OneCoins. "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 as well as the number of participants and amounts of cash involved.
Besides these, Lim is also accused of incorporating One Concept to promote the multi-level marketing scheme.
According to the police, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has listed OneCoin and One Concept on the Investor Alert List (IAL).
They said: "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."
Police have also advised members of the public not to take part in or promote any multi-level marketing schemes involving OneCoin or One Concept.
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.