Officials of global pyramid lottery scheme face tax evasion charges
A lawyer representing disgruntled investors in the controversial World Games Inc. (WGI) has reported WGI's Norwegian officials to the country's white collar crime unit Økokrim.
An Økokrim official confirmed the federal agency that investigates and persecutes economic crimes in Norway had received the filing from lawyer Olav Sylte.
He represents 8 people who are demanding the return of around NOK 1.2 million from WGI officials in Norway.
Sylte also says he's preparing a civil lawsuit against the five "world leaders" of WGI in Norway, which will first be handled through arbitration in Fredrikstad where one of the leaders, Tor Anders Petterøe, lives.
WGI's main business has been linked to lotteries and games that members could play over the Internet. It has run into trouble, however, for the entrance fees it charges members, which have led to its characterization as a pyramid scheme.
WGI, launched in Australia in 2001, reportedly has more than 200,000 members in Norway alone, many of whom now fear they'll lose the money they've paid into the company.
Norwegian tax authorities have also started investigating WGI's local officials. Any convictions will likely lead to tax claims and prison terms.
County tax chief Øivind Strømme in Østfold told newspaper Aftenposten that as many as 10 persons may be reported to police in his district, while another eight face charges in Nordland County.
The tax authorities claim that around 4,000 WGI members in Norway received payouts totalling NOK 300 million, but many never claimed the income on their tax filings.