The Supreme Court in the Republic of Cyprus has ordered the release of five suspects, including two Greek Cypriot brothers, who are wanted by US authorities in connection with an investigation into investment fraud.
According to local media, two brothers who were among five suspects arrested in Cyprus back in May 2021 and October 2022, were released from custody after a Supreme Court judge overturned a ruling for their remand as they faced extradition to the United States.
The five individuals, including the wife of one the brothers, are suspected in a global investment fraud scheme, with US prosecutors alleging there was an operation of “boiler rooms” in different parts of the world, including Cyprus, where fake websites, email addresses and investment reports were used to play tricks on investors.
'Testimony linking the plaintiffs to email accounts that would prove reasonable suspicions of crimes committed by them does not exist, no such testimony was presented, described, or even mentioned'
According to a sealed indictment, US prosecutors allege that the suspects “participated in a sophisticated international mass-marketing investment fraud scheme to defraud English-speaking investors from around the world of millions of dollars, and to launder the fraud proceeds and distribute those proceeds among the conspirators.”
But the Cypriot Supreme Court sided with the suspects’ defense who argued not enough information was shared from the States that could warrant the suspicions.
“It is necessary in the indictment seeking extradition that there be an inclusion of testimony by witnesses and that must be actual and written statement,” the judge ruled.
The appeals judge went on to say it was not sufficient to simply attribute participation to the plaintiffs and take it for granted that email accounts in question belonged to them or that they got paid they maintain or use some of the bank accounts mentioned in the facts of the case.
“Testimony that links the plaintiffs to the email accounts, which would have proven there were reasonable suspicions that crimes were committed by the plaintiffs, does not exist, no such testimony was presented, described, or mentioned that there even might be one” the judge said.
A total of ten people are facing charges in the case that involved countries besides Cyprus, such as Spain, Romania and Cambodia.
US prosecutors say the scams involved criminals claiming to represent legitimate finance firms when cold-calling unsuspecting victims, including US investors.
The main suspect in Cyprus, who owns bars and restaurants on the island, is believed to have been the boss of the operation, with prosecutors alleging he would receive weekly spreadsheets by email and then set up fraudulent internet domains and pay flight costs for newly-recruited telemarketers.