The former CEO of defunct cryptocurrency mining company GAW Miners will plead guilty to a federal wire fraud charge later this week, according to individuals with knowledge of the case.
The ex-chief of the company, Josh Garza, will appear in court on July 20 to face the charge, which is connected to an investigation conducted by the US Department of Justice through the US Attorney's Office in the District of Connecticut.
The case, which has been previously reported but not yet been subject to any public court filings, is distinct from that pursued by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which sued Garza and GAW Miners for alleged securities fraud in late 2015. Its existence was confirmed in a defense filing from February.
Word that Garza would plead guilty to the charge emerged through statements by former customers who had spoken with federal investigators and later shared letters from the Department of Justice detailing the pending plea deal.
GAW Miners, prior to its collapse, sold mining equipment and later began offering hosted services for hardware. The company subsequently moved to a cloud mining model, in which customers purchase hashing power and, effectively, a share of the mining operation's projects.
Yet allegations that the firm was operating a Ponzi scheme – selling more hashing power than it possessed – dogged the company, even as it moved to launch its own cryptocurrency, paycoin, which was controversially said to be backed by a $20 peg. GAW fell apart in the spring of 2015, ultimately leading to the filing of the SEC's lawsuit in December of that year.
A source with knowledge of the US Attorney's Office investigation confirmed the Wednesday court appearance and the forthcoming guilty plea. The office held an information session on Friday for former customers, though details of that call are not currently known.
It remains unclear how the guilty plea will affect the outcome of the SEC's case, which is still active according to court records. In June, US District Judge Jeffrey Meyer approved the agency's request for default judgment against GAW Miners and a second company, ZenMiners, for $11m.
Garza himself was not included in that default judgment, with the SEC saying at the time that its "litigation continues."
Justice image via Shutterstock
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