On September 1, 2020, the judge in the Vienna Cybercrime Trials sentenced Gal Barak, the Israeli principal of the cybercrime organization around E&G Bulgaria to four years imprisonment. Without probation. In addition, €2.5 million were seized and confiscated. These funds are available for restitution payments to Austrian victims. This Austrian indictment was only the first step in the fight of the EU authorities against Barak and his organization. The indictment against his wife Marina Barak (aka Marina Andreeva) has already been served. Further indictments and convictions will follow suit.
Yesterday we received feedback from some Israeli friends who think that four years would be far too less for Gal Barak. The former CEO of Israeli boiler room operator Yukom Communications Ltd, Lee Elbaz, would have been sentenced to 22 years in prison and $28 million in restitution payments. In comparison, Barak’s four years would be ridiculous, a judicial joke, they meant. Well, stop, at this point. The US judicial system works completely different than the one in most EU member states.
The maximum sentence for financial crimes in most EU jurisdictions is 10 years. Defendants who at the time of their conviction had no previous conviction in the respective country, are entitled to a significant reduction to the maximum prison sentence. Furthermore, in case of a confession like Gal Barak who admitted that he conducted fraud and snitched on others, defendants have to get a further reduction. This could then have resulted in a prison sentence of three years.
In this respect the four years given to Gal Barak by honorable judge Andreas Boehm are okay. The judge did not have much leeway there. In view of the fact that Barak is now also accused in other EU countries and could perhaps receive several more years in prison in those other court cases, the result could come quite close to Lee Elbaz‘ 22 years.
With the €2.5 million secured, claims of defrauded investors can be satisfied. Furthermore, Gal Barak and Marina Barak have invested millions in real estate. This is also evident from the documentation of the court files. The authorities and thus the lawyers of the victims are aware of the properties and the respective transactions. In this respect, we can expect more money for victims from the indictment against Marina Barak. Besides Marina Barak, former managers of E&G Bulgaria such as Amit Hulin, Kfir Levy, Jessy Tally, Chen Ganon, or Maor Sioni are on the list of suspects.
The indictment and conviction of Gal Barak was only the beginning within the EU jurisdictions. Thanks to the dedicated law enforcement agents and prosecutors, we will see the destruction of this Israeli cybercrime organization in the end and the restitution of the funds to the defrauded investors.
The first conviction in the Vienna Cybercrime Trials cannot be overestimated in its importance for the fight against cybercrime in the EU. It does not sound as spectacular as in the U.S. but it is consistent and hopefully, it will lead to lasting destruction of this cybercrime organization.