A consumer rights watchdog in Italy is fining a group of companies that have promoted OneCoin, the digital currency investment scheme widely believed to be fraudulent.
The 2.59 million euro fine was passed down by the Italian Antitrust Authority (IAA), quasi-autonomous non-governmental organization that is funded by the Ministry of Economic Development. It comes months after the group moved to suspend the operations of several OneCoin-affiliated companies in Italy.
The companies were sanctioned for utilizing pyramid scheme tactics and misleading investors through promotional materials and events.
The IAA said in a statement:
OneCoin’s dissemination took place through a pyramid sales system as recruitment of new consumers was the sole purpose of sales activity and was strongly encouraged by the recognition of various bonuses, the only real and effective remuneration of the program. The purchase of the training kit in fact concealed the entry fee required to enter the system and convince other consumers of the goodness of the product.”
Italy is the latest country in Europe to move to impose penalties against companies that promote OneCoin.
OneCoin, a purported digital currency, is sold via “packages” to investors who then redeem those packages for coins. Would-be investors are often encouraged to find others do buy those packages from them, adding fuel to the allegations that OneCoin is a Ponzi scheme.
Back in April, regulators in Germany effectively banned the scheme. Officials in Belize, India and Vietnam, among other countries, have taken steps against OneCoin in recent months.