A cryptocurrrency promoter whose wife disappeared in mysterious circumstances has been charged by police for allegedly conning people to invest in a failed Bitcoin business.
John Louis Anthony Bigatton, 52, first came to public attention in mid-2018 after the bizarre disappearance of his wife Madeline from cliffs at Kurnell, in Sydney’s south.
The mother-of-two has never been found and she is presumed dead.
Mrs Bigatton’s disappearance led to an outpouring of emotion, but also revelations of her husband’s links to rogue cryptocurrency investment firm BitConnect.
Bigatton was listed as Australian director of the failed organisation which lost mum and dad investors $3.7 billion worldwide, after promising them massive returns on investment.
At the height of his success with BitConnect, Mr Bigatton had danced on stage at a convention in Asia as cash rained down from the roof.
Australian Federal Police have now charged Bigatton with five offences, alleging he knew the business was a rort but still encouraged them to invest their life savings.
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Bitcoin entrepreneur John Bigatton (left), whose wife Madeline (right) vanished in mysterious circumstances in March 2018, has been charged by federal police with five offences after he allegedly conning mum and dad investors to invest their money – before losing it all
Mrs Bigatton was last seen on CCTV leaving the driveway of her family home at Carss Park, in Sydney’s south-eastern suburbs, on the morning of Sunday, March 25, 2018 (pictured). Her car was found at a clifftop carpark at Kurnell that afternoon, with her wedding ring in the front seat
Bigatton was served with the Commonwealth Indictment on September 26th at his expansive Carrs Park home where he once lived with his wife.
Court documents seen by Daily Mail Australia reveal charges laid by police against Bigatton include three counts of providing false and misleading information, and single counts of running an unregistered management investment scheme and unlawfully providing financial services.
In those documents police allege Bigatton told his prospective investors ‘BitConnect held money in a “reserve fund” to repay their capital investments’.
They also claim this statement implied ‘there was no risk, or a low risk’ and as such people would be ‘induced’ to invest.
Bigatton also allegedly claimed in November 2017 that the price of BitConnect coin – the business’s cryptocurrency arm – would skyrocket to USD$1000 within 12 months.
Less than two months later in January 2018 it was shutdown overnight and dropped to below USD$1.
It will also be alleged that Bigatton told potential investors that putting their money into BitConnect’s Lending Platform was like putting their cash into ‘term deposit’, a bank account where funds are untouchable for a set amount of time and grow with interest.
Police allege in the documents this claim was ‘false or misleading’ because it implied ‘investing in BitConnect Lending Platform involved a similar, low level of capital risk’.
Bigatton’s matter was heard before Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday but he was not in attendance.
The matter will return to court on February 2, 2021.
Exactly a week after his wife had disappeared, Mr Bigatton took this happy family photo during an Easter Sunday lunch – something that one relative described to Daily Mail Australia as ‘odd’
Mrs Bigatton had admitted being in a ‘dark place’ in the weeks before she was last seen and despite defending her husband (right), friends claimed she had been deeply affected by the collapse of Bitconnect
Police will allege Bigatton (pictured with his wife and kids) claimed in November 2017 that the price of BitConnect coin – the business’s cryptocurrency arm – would skyrocket to USD$1000 within 12 months. Less than two months later in January 2018 it was dropped to below USD$1
Mrs Bigatton was last seen on CCTV leaving the driveway of her family home at Carss Park on the morning of Sunday, March 25, 2018.
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MADELINE BIGATTON:
January: Bitconnect, the company her husband John is Australian director of, suddenly collapses – costing investors AUD$3.7 billion across the globe
– In the months that follow Mr Bigatton receives death threats.
March: Mrs Bigatton tells friends she is in a ‘dark place’
– On the morning of Sunday, March 25, she takes one of her daughters off to a friends house. CCTV captures her as she gets in the car.
– Later that day her Kia Sportage is found at a parking lot at Kurnell, south of Sydney, her wedding ring is inside and she is nowhere to be seen
April: Exactly a week after Mrs Bigatton goes missing, her extended family gathers at her family home for Easter lunch.
– During this gathering John gets everyone together for a happy selfie. It is described by a relative as ‘a bit odd’.
June: Police launch an investigation into Mrs Bigatton’s disappearance.
January: ASIC freezes Mr Bigatton’s assets and orders him not to travel overseas while they investigate his role in the Bitconnect collapse
March: After ASIC drop their investigation, the Australian Federal Police begin to look into Mr Bigatton.
September: AFP charged Bigatton with five offences for his role in BitConnect
She dropped her daughter at a friend’s house and drove to Kurnell where her car was later found in a clifftop carpark.
Her wedding ring had been left inside the car and she had text her husband, saying: ‘Don’t forget to feed the dog’.
Messages sent from Mrs Biggaton, a pharmacist, seemed to confirm the collapse of BitConnect had deeply affected her.
It is understood that Mr Bigatton had received death threats from angry investors, a number of which were left on his home phone and heard by his wife and children.
‘The day before she disappeared she said to her sister: “I’m not in a good place, I’m in a dark place”,’ one relative told Daily Mail Australia at the time of her disappearance.
‘At about 3.30pm, she sent John some weird messages.’
There is no suggestion Mr Bigatton had any involvement in his wife’s disappearance.
Bigatton was already facing Supreme Court action over the collapse of BitConnect from which he is accused of benefiting by at least $100,000.
His assets and money were first frozen in January 2019 so ASIC could investigate his businesses.
But when the corporate watchdog stopped pursuing the matter last year the orders threatened to lapse, essentially returning Bigatton’s assets and money back to him.
That was when the AFP stepped in to pick up the investigation.
An affidavit filed in the Supreme Court by the AFP listed Bigatton, Mrs Bigatton and his company JB’s Investment Management as defendants.
Bigatton listed his wife as the sole shareholder and director of the investment front, but the court heard the only user name ever used to access its funds was his.
Responding to the allegations in court in March, Bigatton claimed he had not committed any crimes and said that the fact ASIC had dropped its investigation into him was indicative of that.
He also claimed that he had made it ‘quite clear to investors (of Bitconnect) that they were engaged in a form of gambling’.
An inquest into Mrs Bigatton’s ‘disappearance and suspected death’ is expected to begin early next year.
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Mr Bigatton’s matter will return to Downing Centre Local Court on February 2, 2022 (Pictured is the Carrs Park home where he once lived with his wife and their two daughters)