In his opening statement, the prosecutor claims that Marina Barak, along with her husband Gal Barak, was the key person in the cybercrime organization E&G Bulgaria. She assigned the shifts in the boiler rooms, kept the personnel files, and organized the money laundering. She was also responsible for appointing homeless people as directors at the legal entities to operate the scam brands. According to the prosecution’s findings, Marina Barak continued the scam operations after her husband’s arrest.
In addition to the prosecutor, the attorney for the European Fund Recovery Initiative (EFRI) was also present as a private prosecutor. EFRI represents several hundred victims of E&G Bulgaria, including some Austrians who are witnesses in the trial against Marina Barak and want their money back.
The presiding judge’s questions
According to the criminal proceedings in the EU, the presiding judge began with her questions to the defendant. We could learn that Marina Barak has been in a relationship with Barak only since 2018 and is senior to him by five years. She also told the court that she had a university degree.
She would not have received the instructions for the money transactions from Gal Barak but from other people. She would have carried out the money transactions according to the instructions without a second thought. That’s the way it worked, she argued. The judge evidently could not believe that an intelligent woman with a university degree would not think about her work. In general, the answers seemed implausible. On Thursday, the questioning by the prosecutor will continue.
The defense requested Gal Barak as a witness.
Love is a terrible thing…
The Viennese defense attorney, Norbert Wess, of the Bulgarian citizen Marina Barak (previously Marina Andreeva) presented the expected “I was in love” strategy. In his opening statement, he claimed that being in love clouded Marina Barak’s mind. In her infatuation with Gal Barak, she would not have recognized the fraud. This defense strategy was expected by insiders and will likely play out to the end of the trial. Given her husband’s conviction for fraud and money laundering, this defense strategy apparently seems more appropriate than trying to deny the fraud altogether.
Whether this “I was so in love” strategy is ultimately successful remains to be seen.
… but regret needs restitution
Perhaps love has really blinded Marina Barak which is not a legal excuse anyway. However, her eyes must have been opened at the latest when her husband was sentenced in the first Vienna Cybercrime Trial in September 2021. With her eyes open, she should now be able to see recognize the tens of thousands of victims in the EU alone that have allegedly lost more than €200 million to the E&G Bulgaria scams run by Gal Barak, Marina Barak, and their team. She laundered the money and, therefore, must know where it is.
Moreover, with parts of the stolen money, Marina Barak acquired real estate in Bulgaria. She can make these available for restitution too.
Also, she can answer questions about her husband’s partners. Besides Gal, she was a confidante for the scheme’s two masterminds Gery Shalon and Vladislav Smirnov. Likewise, she knows all the management team members of E&G Bulgaria (the co-conspirators), such as Kfir Levy, Amit Hulin, Jesse Tally, Itzik Gellet, and the other managers of the various scam brands and boiler Rooms.