Israeli citizen Gal Barak was found guilty as charged in early September 2020 as the head of the cybercrime organization E&G Bulgaria for investment fraud and money laundering. He was sentenced to four years in prison. Also, millions of Euros frozen in Bulgarian bank accounts were confiscated for restitution payments. Barak is about to be extradited to Germany, where he is also charged with operating the fraudulent brokers. His partner and wife, Bulgarian Marina Barak, will stand trial as his accomplice and CFO of E&G Bulgaria. She is expected to plead not guilty.
Obviously, Gal Barak and Marina Barak (previously Marina Andreeva) must have plenty of money. Most of it was stolen from victims of their fraudulent broker platforms such as XTraderFX, SafeMarkets, OpftionStars, or Golden Markets. The most expensive lawyers in Vienna defend them. Marina is represented by Norbert Wess, who most recently defended former Austrian Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser. He lost the trial; Grasser has been sentenced to 8 years in prison. He appealed against the judgment.
In the Austrian trial, Gal Barak was represented by Peter Lewisch, a senior counsel from the law firm Cerha Hempel. So far, Barak has already paid more than €400,000 to the law firm. For the defense of Marina and Gal’s German charges, probably another few hundred thousand will be added.
The charges in a nutshell
Marina Barak was responsible for finances within E&G Bulgaria and the organization’s CFO. She had a power of attorney (POA) for the bank accounts of the various companies. Besides, she had POA in some of the offshore companies that operated the scams. She organized the laundering of the stolen funds for E&G Bulgaria and the Barak family, the indictment alleges. There should be enough evidence to prove this.
After the arrest of Gal Barak, Marina initially continued the organization with Itzhak Gellet, Kfir Levy, and the other mostly Israeli co-conspirators. Moreover, she coordinated the activities with the two remaining partners Gery Shalon and Vladislav Smirnov. This is evident from the various WhatsApp messages and emails in the criminal file. Shalon and Smirnov are also listed as defendants in the Vienna Cybercrime Trials.
The money-laundering question
While Gal Barak has already been convicted of money laundering, Marina stands trial for it next week. The question is whether the lawyers involved have carried out the appropriate AML checks on their clients and the payments.
We will report on the trial. Stay tuned!