In September 2020, the Israeli Gal Barak was sentenced in the Vienna Cybercrime Trials as one of the masterminds behind the cybercrime organization E&G Bulgaria (formerly E&G Finance) to four years in prison and millions in restitution payments for investment fraud and money laundering. His Bulgarian wife Marina Barak (formerly Marina Andreeva) faces the same charges and is currently on trial. Gal Barak gave false testimony at the trial of his wife and was consequently charged by the prosecution for that. As private prosecutors, the EFRI lawyer and its principal Elfriede Sixt accompany the trials representing the victims’ voice!
Waiting for extradition and additional charges
Gal Barak is currently in custody, awaiting extradition to Germany. The German prosecutors also want to press charges. However, his lawyer Peter Lewisch of the Vienna law firm Cerha Hempel has objected to the extradition. He argues that a new indictment in Germany would not be compatible with the current legal situation in the EU and its member states. It will probably take a few more weeks for the courts to rule on this landmark case. The interesting question to be decided on by the EU courts is whether or not cybercriminals can be indicted for the same reasons in every EU country in which they stole money from local victims.
The third trial day
While waiting for the extradition, his wife Marina Barak is on trial in the Vienna Cybercrime Trials. She is charged by the prosecution as the accountant of the cybercrime organization also for investment fraud and money laundering. She is alleged to have assisted Gal Barak in stealing the funds from the clients of the scam platforms XtraderFX, SafeMarkets, OptionStars, OptionStarsGlobal, Golden Markets, or CryptoPoint and laundering them through complicated offshore constructions.
She is represented by the well-known and expensive Viennese lawyer Norbert Wess. The latter most recently defended former Finance Minister Karl-Heinz Grasser without success. Grasser was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. The judgment is not yet final. Wess is said to be a former apprentice of Gal Barak‘s lawyer Peter Lewisch.
On May 10, 2021, the third session against Marina Barak took place. Her questioning by the prosecutor and the court continued, and, additionally, the witness Dimitar Moraliyski (a/k/a James Morra) was questioned.
The rich witness
The former retention manager with the self-chosen stage name James Morra is currently in prison in Germany faced with charges of investment fraud. His trial in Germany starts in July 2021. Morra was heard as a witness via video conference.
James Morra is a Bulgarian and is said to have been one of the best retention managers (a/k/a investment fraudsters) in the boiler rooms of E&G Bulgaria, making a small fortune (see report here). He testified in the video interrogation that E&G Bulgaria was an Israeli venture and operated as a two-tier organization::
- Israeli managers: as the Israeli fraud elite, Gal Barak, Jacki Zaharia, Itzik Gellet, Maor Sioni, Jesse Tally, Chen Ganon, Kfir Levy, Amit Hulin, or Barak Simhi represented the top management. They would have spoken only Hebrew among themselves so as not to be understood by the local employees.
- Local Boiler Room Agents: local employees were hired in Bulgaria, Serbia, and other countries as call center (boiler room) agents pretending to be brokers or experienced traders. They had to communicate exclusively in English with the victims and among themselves to enable the Israeli managers to understand and control their communication.
Marina Barak would have been far above him, taking care of the accounting and finances of E&G Bulgaria, James Morra testified. She would have also approved his bonuses, but she was far above him in the hierarchy.
The false testimony
Gal Barak has already testified in court for his wife Marina at the last hearing. As a court witness, he is legally obliged to tell the truth, but he could have refused to testify as a husband. That’s the law! Gal Barak, however, wanted to testify on the advice of counsel. As a result, he lied so blatantly in his testimony that the court found him in contempt. Moreover, the prosecutor has brought charges against him for this. If convicted, he faces an additional prison sentence of up to three years.
More witnesses for Marina
The trial against Marina Barak will continue on July 14 and 15, 2021. Her lawyers wanted to hear additional witnesses allegedly providing favorable statements to show that Marina Barak is innocent. These witnesses would be well advised to avoid the Gal Barak approach and refrain from lying. Unfortunately for them, the prosecutors know no tolerance in this regard and would press charges again.
Further charges expected
At least three more indictments against partners of Gal Barak are expected until the next trial session in the Marina Case. The authorities are keeping a low profile in this regard. The presiding judge is apparently also expected to conduct the trial against these new defendants.