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Andrea Zanon, former World Bank consultant, has been arrested at Barcelona-El Prat airport. The financial services executive, an Italian-born US citizen, was identified by Spanish officials when in transit through the Mediterranean airport. This has been announced by the Spanish public prosecutors based at the National Audience criminal court, who detailed that the proceedings carried out so far by the Civil Guard agents reveal that the focus is an illegal pyramid scheme. The fraud is allegedly connected to advertising as a result of which investors bought cryptocurrencies and deposited them on the platform, until irregularities began to be detected.

The main incentive for investors to buy into the scheme was the high interest rate they received for depositing their previously purchased cryptocurrencies on the Malta-based NIMBUS Platform. But on October 9th, 2022, the platform suspended operations and investors were unable to recover a single euro. That was the start of the supposed scam, which the Spanish judge is investigating as a multi-million euro fraud, and which has led Zanon to be sent to provisional prison. However, it has been ruled that he can avoid jail by posting bail of 60,000 euros, in a decision which is contrary to the judgment of the prosecutor, who sought to have the former World Bank project director imprisoned without bail.

During the hearing, Zanon denied having been an executive in the Maltese NIMBUS Platform and alleged that he only lent his image to the project at the beginning. The financier was arrested at Barcelona's airport on Friday and, shortly after, was placed at the disposition of the National Audience judge. After making a statement, he was sent to prison provisionally - with a bail of 60,000 euros being determined for him to avoid entering entering the penitentiary - given that he is considered the main participant in the massive crypto-currency pyramid scam and, in addition, has no roots in Spain.

Investigation and fraud of 128 million euros

The Malta-based platform, with Zanon allegedly as one of the directors, is being investigated for defrauding more than 200 investors. Spain's Civil Guard has estimated the scale of the scam at a total of 135.8 million US dollars (128.13 million euros). In this Monday's ruling, the judge considered that the former World Bank consultant "has used his figure as a brand of trust for NIMBUS Platform" and, in addition, citing an interview from 2019, provided his resume when presenting the platform to the project, in which he referred to his experience as an advisor to former US president Bill Clinton and ex-secretary of state Madeleine Albright.

The judge also explains that Zanon has a network of companies in different jurisdictions, such as Spain, Panama and the United States, linked in different ways. "It can be hypothesized that Andrea Zanon launched the Nimbus company and contributed his extensive professional experience to creating a brand of trust that would serve to attract investors, even enabling the size of the scam to reach the desired figures, at which point he began to take the necessary measures to completely disassociate himself from the business, even going so far as to pay for the erasure of the digital fingerprint of this connection", concluded the Spanish judge this Monday.

Andrea Zanon, sole shareholder in 2020

For all this, he was arrested at Barcelona airport and provisionally jailed. However, the investigation actually began in March 2022, when the Spanish Supreme Court urged the National Audience to investigate this matter given the Spanish nationality of some of those accused. The alarm was raised in Spain by a private individual who sued the Maltese cryptocurrency investment company for defrauding him, he claimed, of 9,000 euros. And although Zanon has denied his connection to the NIMBUS Platform, he was the only shareholder when the company was set-up with a share capital of 1,200 euros divided into one-euro shares, and his status as sole owner continued until June 2020, when the shares were transferred to another Maltese company, which then transferred them to Odysseas Kimiskez.