The Bulgarian Marina Barak (formerly Marina Andreeva) is a brilliant and charming woman. She holds a degree in economics and worked in the financial field in London. Besides her native Bulgarian, she speaks perfect English and undoubtedly has a talent for numbers and organization. From at least 2016 to 2019, she was the chief financial officer and accountant of the cybercrime organization E&G Bulgaria EOOD in Sofia, Bulgaria, which operated illegal broker brands like XtraderFX, SafeMarkets, OptionStars, Golden Markets, or CryptoPoint and illegal boiler rooms in Bulgaria, Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, or Bosnia and Herzegovina with his Israeli leadership team. Her husband, the Israeli Gal Barak, was one of the organization’s principal besides Gery Shalon and Vladislav Smirnov.
The Forrest Gump approach
In court, Marina Barak has played a sort of Forrest Gump. She presented herself as a naive, stupid, and so trustful young lady. She was so much into her Forrest Gump role that it sometimes became too much even for the presiding judge and her fellow judges. Several times, the judges remarked to Marina Barak that it would not be credible that she had not known about anything given her education and experience.
How can it be that a Mrs. Barak had the Power of Attorney (PO) of so many offshore companies, established and managed their bank accounts, withdrew millions in cash, and moved tens of millions through complicated offshore constructions without knowing anything? Marina Barak insists that she didn’t think about it but acted only on instructions from Gal Barak. She did not question anything and would not have known about the fraud. Not until the very end. She trusted Gal Barak. She repeats this over and over again.
The Chief Accountant approach
However, the Vienna Cybercrime Trials files show a different Marina Barak, a very different one indeed! Law enforcement forensic evaluations indicate that Marina Barak was at the center of a vast spider network for money laundering. She had the Power of Attorney everywhere and access to bank accounts.
She involved herself also on strategic issues of the E&G Bulgaria cybercrime organization. For example, she continuously communicated via WhatsApp and Telegram with other principals Gery “Gabi” Shalon and Vladislav Smirnov (a/k/a Vladislav Khokholkov). While police in Bulgaria were searching the offices, Marina informed Smirnov that she had an update on the license she was seeking in Vanuatu. Vanuatu, an island nation located in the South Pacific, is a popular offshore destination among scammers. Does that sound like Forrest Gump to anyone?
The criminal files reveal a very competent Marina Barak, who took over the management of E&G Bulgaria after her husband’s arrest in January 2019. In doing so, she continued to communicate with Gal Barak‘s partners, Shalon and Smirnov. In addition, she continued to run the organization and coordinated the Israeli leadership team around Kfir Levy, Jacki Zaharia, Maor Sioni, Amit Hulin, Ifat Fitelzon, and others.
She knew very well what to do. Studying the files, one does not get the impression for a second that Marina Barak was clueless, stupid, or naive. On the contrary, she appears as the determined chief accountant and co-principal. We will see if the feigned stupidity will ultimately bring the desired acquittal.
In the next part on the accountant’s responsibility, we will detail the structure and cash flows. Without the accountant’s involvement, the fraud against the victims of scam brands would not have been possible. Only the efficient money laundering structure with supporting payment processors made it possible to steal the many tens of millions of victims in the EU. Marina Barak knows how and where the victims’ money went. This is important information for the compensation of the victims. Without Restitution Payments, convictions of cybercriminals don’t really have much meaning for victims.