Argyle Coin founder escapes $4.5M penalty in digital currency fraud

The founder of a multi-million Ponzi scheme has escaped paying a $4.5 million civil penalty to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Jose Angel Aman from Florida started the digital currency company, Argyle Coin, which he allegedly operated along with Canadian radio host Harold Seigel and his son Jonathan Seigel. Authorities said Aman operated three consecutive Ponzi schemes, aka “companies,” which duped more than 300 investors from U.S., Canada and Venezuela of $30 million. 

As CoinGeek reported in December 2020, the U.S. District Court of Southern Florida sentenced Aman to seven years in jail and ordered him to pay $23 million in victim restitution. He was also asked to pay a $4.2 million penalty for representing profits gained from the fraudulent venture and a $325,033 prejudgment interest. 

However, Judge Robin Rosenberg from the U.S. District Court has recently ruled, “It is further ordered and adjudged that the civil penalty against Aman is dismissed. This amount shall be deemed satisfied by the restitution ordered in the parallel criminal case against Defendant.” 

Judge Rosenberg also permanently restrained Aman from “using any means or instrumentality of interstate commerce, or of the mails, or of any facility of any national securities exchange in connection with the purchase or sale of any security.” He must also not offer or engage in the sale of securities.

Argyle Coin was a digital currency startup that claimed its token was backed by diamonds. While soliciting investors, Aman falsely promised high returns with virtually no risk to investors. After raising the funds, he used a small portion of it to develop the worthless token and pocketed the rest. Argyle Coin came after Aman had solicited investment in another fraudulent venture in which he claimed to be purchasing rough colored diamonds, polishing them, and reselling them at a profit.

As the Department of Justice alleged, Aman and his partners, Harold and Jonathan Siegel, used the money “to make purported interest payments to investors, to pay business expenses, to pay commissions to the partners, and to support his own lavish lifestyle.”

A group of Venezuelan investors sued Aman a year ago for defrauding them. They said they came to the United States “to start new lives,” and had invested in Aman’s token after promises of lucrative returns. 

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