On Sunday 20th of November, a gaggle claiming to signify the administration group at Juicy Fields and calling themselves the Anti-Disaster Committee issued an announcement in video format on their web site, promising to refund all buyers who’ve misplaced cash, in addition to set up relationships with pharmaceutical firms with the intention to provide medicinal cannabis internationally. In case you’re not conscious of the Juicy Fields scandal, let me provide you with a quick define.
In brief, this firm invited folks to make small investments to fund small growers of cannabis everywhere in the world however predominantly in far-flung Latin American and Asian international locations. In summer time of 2022, the enterprise collapsed when it was found that funds had been misappropriated to offshore financial institution accounts and administration was nowhere to be discovered. Traders had no strategy to entry their funds, and have reportedly misplaced greater than 2 billion. It’s been billed as the most important rip-off in cannabis historical past.
Within the video, six burly dudes sit round a espresso desk, smoking blunts, sporting black hoodies and Nameless masks, whereas a computerized recording enjoying on a laptop computer points an inventory of guarantees to clients. The gang nods alongside as if to point their sincerity. However it’s unimaginable to disregard the truth that they’re dressed like thugs. Is that this the cannabis business we would like? Lars Olofsson, a lawyer based mostly in Sweden, is representing 800 buyers from greater than 50 international locations that misplaced cash within the Juicy Fields rip-off. In a current podcast with The Hashish Assessment he explains the case and its influence on victims.
QUESTION: What’s Juicy Fields?
The corporate was arrange in spring of 2020 as an e-commerce platform inviting folks to speculate is cannabis develop operations based mostly around the globe. Traders had been known as e-growers. The corporate’s web site claimed operations everywhere in the world in South America, central America, Europe and Asia, making it a world enterprise from day one. They offered a brand new approach of investing within the cannabis business, a brand new and disruptive idea, a co-op mannequin.
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QUESTION: How lengthy was the corporate working?
In response to my analysis, they put a variety of planning into this mission and had been in starting stage for a minimum of 2 years earlier than launching the web site in April 2020. They had been working up till July of 2022. They took within the majority of buyers over this 2-year interval. However the dad or mum firm began in 2017 as a analysis and improvement firm. Primarily, this firm was offered as a start-up within the cannabis business, and as I’m additionally an investor within the house, in addition to a lawyer, they caught my consideration again then. The dad or mum firm, Juicy Develop, relies in Germany, and is a German firm. They’ve subsidiaries in Switzerland, and probably Cyprus.
QUESTION: When did folks notice the corporate was not legit?
That occurred in July of this yr when abruptly the web site was shut down, and emails and cell numbers had been disconnected. That’s when the folks puzzled if the issue was technical or one thing higher. I’ve been investigating funding scams for the final 15 years, and I can spot a type of sample or playbook that almost all of those scams make use of. They have a tendency to close down and disconnect every part, and submit on the web site saying that is only a “non permanent drawback,” resulting from “administration conflicts,” and we’ll be “again quickly.” That is sensible as a result of it provides folks hope, and the phantasm that they’re not being scammed when they’re.
QUESTION: Is there a cash path? Do we all know the place funds had been going? Was this a money-laundering scheme?
In my analysis, I’ve recognized greater than 125,000 buyers from everywhere in the world. Enterprise was achieved between buyers and a Dutch firm, Juicy Fields BV, by way of an account in Cyprus. The majority of money move went to this financial institution in Cyprus. What I’ve found over the course of my work is that the criminals concerned in this sort of crime are usually utilizing the rip-off as a canopy for different felony actions, that means they construct an infrastructure, which is used for varied functions.
So, Juicy Fields is only one department of a a lot bigger operation. On this case, my analysis reveals proof of a money-laundering scheme. I think that the money-laundering operation may very well be three to 4 occasions the dimensions of the funding in Juicy Fields. By my calculation, some quantity near 2 billion euro has been misplaced by buyers.
QUESTION: Is there a selected nation that’s been most affected?
The numbers are unsure, however my group and I’ve been in touch with greater than 20,000 folks from everywhere in the world, which is the place I get the determine of 125,000. Germany is unquestionably one of many largest funding swimming pools with as much as 11,000 buyers. Spain, round 10,000 buyers; Portugal, round 8,000 buyers. Mexico and France are additionally affected. However actually, this rip-off impacts hundreds of individuals in kind of each nation.
QUESTION: Is there sturdy proof to convict the perpetrators in court docket?
Sure. As I stated, my analysis reveals that these folks had been planning this for years. If we are able to present planning in addition to funding of money and time in infrastructure, which we are able to, we are able to additionally make certain that these folks deliberate their exit technique to make sure that they maintain this cash. There’s no logic in stealing 2 billion euro except you’ll be able to maintain it. My technique is rarely to go after the criminals as a result of they’re up to now forward of the sport. As an alternative, I am going after the folks that facilitated the gross sales and advertising. That’s why I’m concentrating on a few of the giant social media firms and a few media retailers that allowed Juicy Fields to advertise their supply.
These firms can not simply say, we didn’t know! They should do some stage of due diligence. Regardless of who you’re within the cannabis business it’s worthwhile to have a license to function. And in case you’re an organization that handles funds for funding, you additionally want a license. So these firms ought to have requested two quite simple questions: 1. Do you have got a license to commerce in cannabis? 2. Do you have got a license to offer funding recommendation or conduct funding administration? I’ve an inventory of greater than 40 firms who facilitated gross sales and advertising for Juicy Fields, in addition to an inventory of greater than 70 people that helped the corporate with these companies.
These individuals who work within the business ought to have requested these two easy questions, and may have understood that the enterprise mannequin merely doesn’t work. Initially, the earnings margins are tiny, however greater than that there’s no proof of any end-buyers. This firm has not bought any flower to any recognized end-buyer. However folks additionally want to know that there are not any massive returns on funding within the cannabis business, and positively not in farming, as in all sorts of farming, the revenue margins are very small. So, promising a margin of 66% inside 3 months is ridiculous. So, the cannabis professionals ought to have recognized this supply made no sense.
QUESTION: Can the individuals who misplaced cash be refunded?
In 95% of those circumstances, the top result’s a settlement out of court docket. Up till now, a lot of the social media firms are ignoring me, so now I’m making ready a authorized technique to take this to court docket. My aim is to a set a precedent for facilitators to ensure they do some fundamental due diligence sooner or later. And when injury is triggered, in addition they should take duty. My shoppers have misplaced a lot cash, on common greater than 32,000euro, and these are usually not rich folks. Most of them are simply extraordinary individuals who wished to help the cannabis business. So, these folks have additionally needed to cope with the psychological misery of this example as a result of most of them have misplaced every part that they had.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
You may watch the podcast right here:
If anybody wish to contact Mr. Olofsson to get extra particulars on the case, please go to the web site Juicy Fields Case.com: https://juicyfieldscase.com/
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