Australian prosecutors discontinue Andrew Forrest’s criminal case against Meta over scam cryptocurrency ads

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Andrew Forrest

12th April 2024 – (Sydney) Australian prosecutors have halted the criminal prosecution of mining magnate Andrew Forrest against Meta, the parent company of Facebook, regarding thousands of fraudulent cryptocurrency advertisements featuring Forrest’s image. This development represents a setback for Forrest, who owns 37% of iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group and is Australia’s second-wealthiest individual. However, his separate civil lawsuit against Meta in California regarding the advertisements remains ongoing.

The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions spokesperson stated on Friday that there was insufficient evidence to proceed with the prosecution, without providing further details on the decision.

Forrest accuses Meta of violating Australia’s anti-money laundering laws by permitting third-party scammers to use its platform to advertise fake cryptocurrency schemes using his likeness, misleading people into believing he endorsed them.

He pursued the lawsuit under Australian legislation that allows individuals to criminally prosecute foreign corporations with the attorney general’s consent.

In response to the dismissal, Forrest lamented that it was “a tragedy for innocent parents and grandparents who have lost their life savings.”

A spokesperson for Meta was not immediately available for comment.

Forrest affirmed his intent to continue pursuing the California case, where he alleges that the U.S. company failed to take adequate measures to prevent the appearance of the fraudulent ads.

In his filing for the California case, Forrest claimed that Meta had assured him in 2019 that it would assist in removing the scam advertisements featuring his image. However, the ads continued to target Australian Facebook users, resulting in substantial losses for those who fell victim to the deception.

While Meta argues that a U.S. law exempts internet platforms from liability for content posted by third parties, Forrest maintains that Meta’s argument is invalid, asserting that the U.S. law only applies domestically.