May 23, 2023
Contact: Lars Olofsson at [email protected] or Nina Jansdotter at [email protected]
Federal Swedish Court Forwards Lars Olofsson’s Juicy Fields Investor Class Action Against Meta to the Supreme Court
In a precedent-setting if not timely move, the Swedish federal court in Umeå has escalated Swedish lawyer Lars Olofsson’s first legal class action case on behalf of scammed Juicy Fields investors to the Supreme Court.
Lars Olofsson’s first class action case in the Juicy Fields scam, against Meta, filed on behalf of defrauded investors, was launched as a unique, first of its kind legal precedent legal action to protect investors from online fraud and establish social media company liability for the same, particularly with bought advertising on said network. This is in fact the reason that the federal court has now escalated the case.
This development is in fact, the largest public sign that this entire affair is not going to just go away. Further, a positive decision in this case will go far in making scammed investors whole.
The Biggest Legal Victories of This Decision
There are many issues to be decided here. However, from the perspective of the first lawsuit there are actually several victories inherent in this development.
There were six issues that the District Court in Luleå (where the Meta servers are located) and then the Crown Court in Umeå – the regional appeal court of Upper Norrland) had to consider.
Jurisdiction – in other words if Sweden was the right country to file the lawsuit
CEO responsibility for events that occurred
If Juicy Fields was a scam, or committed a crime
If the investors were victims of this crime
The arrangement that one victim could be a representative for all the rest and from all the world (in effect, certifying that a class action could take place with one plaintiff representing global victims)
If what has been done (or not) by Mark Zuckerberg is enough to fulfil the requirements of aiding and abetting a crime, as a criminal offence.
It is now up to the Supreme Court to set precedent for the definition and level of “Aiding and abetting” as a crime. There has not been such a case where aiding and abetting has been used to prosecute aggravated fraud. This is a charge used most frequently for murders and robbery: However the criminal code allows for the use of this charge in a wide array of crimes mentioned in the Swedish criminal code.
Everything now depends on the interpretation of the court’s definition of Swedish laws on aiding and abetting fraud and how much a CEO can be held liable. For example, when Juicy Fields was allowed to market itself on Facebook and Instagram, the legal issues at stake are that it was partly a fraudulent company that marketed itself and partly that there was a risk that Facebook and Instagram users could be deceived and lose money.
It is this responsibility that everything is now concentrated on, and there are no other things that either the Supreme Court or Zuckerberg can oppose.
According to Olofsson, “The fact that we have come this far is a victory, and means something not only for us, but also for others in the future who want to pursue the same processes.”
Setting New Standards
The escalation of this case is precedent setting for several reasons, not just the issues at stake for Meta. The decision on behalf of the federal judges reviewing this case to escalate the same to the Swedish Supreme Court almost exactly at the same time as several pending legal cases against the liability of social media firms in third-party posted content was just shot down by the US Supreme Court is stunning enough, and impactful enough on its own.
However, the primacy if not sanctity of Section 230 of the American Communications Decency Act, the legal issue actually at stake in the US cases, is not of concern to European courts. Beyond this, social media firms have repeatedly lost, and lost big, against European law and on a range of issues. See the most recent fine – a record $1.3 billion – levied against Meta for breaking GDPR (European privacy law) by transferring user data to the US. The suit was initially launched by Austrian lawyer and privacy advocate Max Shrems.
The second is that this is one of the largest class action litigations to take place in Europe – and on behalf of scammed investors. The many issues left hanging by authorities in the Wirecard case is another reason Olofsson is taking a no prisoners’ attitude. “Just like accounting firms, CEOs and other officers of a registered company are, by definition, responsible for the bad actions of the companies they helm or work for. The idea that they are not is ludicrous – and should be a warning sign to every investor still considering the cannabis space – not to mention the people working in it.”
The third is Olofsson’s continued focus on what he calls the “facilitators” in this kind of fraud case. While investor class actions for liability and damages are far more common in the United States, they are very rare here – particularly when they begin to set precedents across the region. However, the rise in online fraud, MLM schemes and other cons is slowly beginning to wake up authorities and politicians here that this is an issue that is only getting worse – particularly with the growing prominence of social media platforms of all kinds.
Regardless, the move to also hold “facilitators” responsible for the fraud is also unique, if not timely, although seems to also reflect another trend afoot right now – namely holding not just the criminal but the ring of companies and individuals who aided and abetted criminal actions, responsible for the same. The decision in Sweden also came just days before Deutsche Bank agreed to pay the victims of Jeffrey Epstein a stunning $75 million settlement.
One thing is clear. While it still happens far too infrequently, there are clearly legal and regulatory forces across Europe which are starting to hold or be held liable for their role in frauds and scams, even if tangential to the actual con itself, in large international fraud and corruption crimes. This appears to be at work here. This is a case that will be prosecuted in Sweden – with precedent set not just in Sweden, but certainly across the EU.
The second round of high-profile cases is now being prepped by Olofsson and his team, starting with the banks who allowed such transactions to go through. This is less precedent-setting law than the first case, as Swedish Courts (and increasingly others across Europe) are beginning to hold banks directly responsible for their bad actions. In this case, it is clear that basic bank controls, both automatic and manual, failed to work in the vast majority of the literally hundreds of thousands of transfers that took place through the traditional and highly regulated SEPA banking system.
However, Olofsson will also begin to launch legal actions against much smaller firms and individuals after publishing information and names gathered in painstaking research for the last 9 months.
“No matter how small the interaction someone might have had for, with or on behalf of this monster scam, this is as much a case about finding resolution beyond financial reparation for my clients. Even if people did not take money and stayed silent when they should have been complaining and ringing alarm bells, I am going to prosecute,” Olofsson said. “I know I am not the only person in the cannabis industry who is tired of fraud – and the only way to enforce the law is to sue. That said, I am also offering amnesty for people and firms who know they are on my target list if they cooperate with me. I want to make a point about compliance. This industry is too important to leave it resting on pillars that are less than stable.”