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Vienna Cybercrime Trials – First Witness Day and Witness Bribery

Gal Barak and his funny life as cybercrime principal

Today the third day of the Vienna Cybercrime Trials against the Israeli Gal Barak took place in Vienna. The prosecutors charge Barak of being the principal of the cybercrime organization E&G Bulgaria which operated a worldwide scam broker and money-laundering network with big fraud brands like XTraderFX, SafeMarkets, Golden Markets, CryptoPoint or OptionStars. The verdict is expected in early September 2020. Until then, several more days of hearings will take place. Today, many witnesses have been heard. In parallel, a friend of Baraks’ tried to bribe a potential witness to testify in his favor.

Playing on the religious piano

As in the last two days, Gal Barak presented himself in the courtroom as a nice, humble, and religious man. To underpin this approach, he again was accompanied by religious friends or advisers. However, this is not Barak as we know him with expensive watches, Gucci shoes, and expensive cars. Perhaps the months in prison led him to faith and the path of virtue. It would be desirable for him.

Bribing a potential witness

However, friends of Barak’s tried to bribe potential witnesses today. While he was in the courtroom, one of his friends contacted a former business partner of Barak and allegedly offered money if he would testify for Barak in court. This was confirmed to FinTelegram via the lawyer involved.

Witnesses paint the picture

Meanwhile, more than a dozen witnesses were heard today in the Vienna courtroom in Vienna. When questioned by the prosecutor’s office, the honorable judge, and the defense attorneys, these witnesses provided the following statements:

  • They were convinced that they were making a low-risk investment. This is what was explained to them above all by the boiler room agents.
  • Under no circumstances had they made bets as Barak’s defense team purported.
  • The Boiler Room agents presented themselves as professional investment advisors or experienced traders and above all as “nice” and “to be trusted” people. The witnesses (now victims) thus trusted their advice.
  • The victims were in no way aware that they had concluded the binary options transactions against the house, i.e. that their boiler rooms and E&G Bulgaria would only make money if the clients (victims) lost.
  • The boiler room agents would have persuaded them to install the Anydesk software so that these agents would have remote access to their PC.
  • One Witness stated that he saw that during the conversations with the boiler room agents (i.e. the fake investment advisor, trader or account manager), they made unauthorized transactions on their accounts through Anydesk and thus produced losses.
  • In general, they would have been continuously contacted by the Boiler Room Agents. They would have persuaded them to make additional deposits with promises of high profits and returns and afterwards – after the relationship deteriorated – with threats.
  • They were promised by the boiler room agents that some transactions were insured against losses and thus risk-free.
  • They have actually been forced to make more and more deposits with reference to questionable contracts signed with complicated explanations of minimum transaction numbers and bonus rules.
  • Finally, they would not have been allowed to make withdrawals if they had requested them.
  • Only one witness told the judge that he was aware that he did binary options, but this witness also told the judge that he was not aware that his broker (the call center guy) actually was not his adviser, but was on the winning part when he lost.

Gal Barak and his defense team around Peter Lewisch and Stefan Huber apparently have grounded their defense strategy on to follow three basic lines:

  • Defense Line #1 Gal Barak is a very religious and humble person – and not to forget a “very sick” person
  • Defense Line #2: Gal Barak (or the members of his team) platforms have not sold investments but high-risk betting, i.e. gambling;
  • Defense Line #2: Gal Barak was neither the CEO (boss) of E&G Bulgaria, he had nothing to do with the daily business.

Defense Line #1 is implemented through the constant accompaniment of Barak by his righteous Jewish advisors and through his demonstrated modesty. The public prosecutor has already explained that millions have been transferred to Barak and his companies. In this respect, the modesty shown can be justifiably questioned.

As CEO of E&G Bulgaria, Gal Barak was actually a celebrity in Sofia, Bulgaria. He has donated a lot of money to the church and politics. He was also involved as an investor in an expensive Jewish restaurant in Sofia. The Rabbi of Sofia, Yosef Salamon, and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov attended the opening (see picture above). In the office of E&G Bulgaria, Barak received the then Minister of Interior of Bulgaria Tsvetan Tsvetanov (picture below) and received awards. He always surrounded himself with bodyguards and personally trained the boiler room agents in seminars in luxury hotels. There is little to be seen of humility or religious attitude in the pictures of that time.

Gal Barak meets Bulgarian minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov in E&G Bulgaria office

The already heard witnesses in the Vienna Cybercrime Trials have impressively refuted Defense Line #2. The witnesses strictly and credibly rejected any allegation that they had placed bets. They were only interested in investments with no or low risks. Hence, they were offered “insured trades” and “bonus payments.”

There is sufficient evidence in the files to refute Defense Line #3 as well. FinTelegram also has confirmation and statements from the former head of the boiler room for SafeMarkets, Chen Ganon. He stated that he received his orders from Barak and his wife Marina Barak (previously Marina Andreeva) on a daily basis and delivered daily reports.

We can look forward to the next court days in August 2020. So far Gal Barak has according to rumours paid some € 400,000 to his (“after the relationship deteriorated – with threats.) defense team. A lot of money for a penniless do-gooder. This is the kind of man Barak is presenting himself to the court. Reality is that Barak stole the money for his defense from the victims. They now have to watch how the person responsible for their loss uses their money to defend themselves against them. That’s bad, isn’t it?

If convicted, the victims have a chance to get their money back from Barak and his friends. European Funds Recovery Initiative (EFRI) is working on this. Stay tuned.

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