The Philatelic Forum scam reaches the CJEU three decades after the intervention

The Philatelic Forum scam has reached, 16 years after its intervention in May 2006 and with its protagonists firmly condemned, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which must decide on the delivery to Portugal of its ringleader, Francis Briones.

On March 2, the National High Court submitted a preliminary ruling to the CJEU on the advisability of handing Briones over to Portugal, in prison, so that he may serve in that country the sentence imposed on him by a Portuguese court.

In his defense, and to avoid extradition, Briones has argued that the facts of the sentence of the National Court that sentenced him, later ratified by the Supreme Court, are the same for which he has been tried in Portugal, for which he raises res judicata exception.

That is, not being judged twice for the same thing.

In July 2018, twelve years after the company’s intervention, the National High Court sentenced Briones to 12 years and four months in prison as the main author of the “paradigm of pyramid scams”, a sentence that was revised downwards by the Supreme.

Already in 2020, the high court slightly lowered the sentence to 11 years and 10 months in prison, with a fine of 49.7 million euros, for aggravated fraud, accounting falsehood, punishable insolvency and money laundering, by applying the mitigating factor of undue delay.

For these events, the Supreme Court imposed sentences ranging from six months to eleven years in prison on 16 defendants, and regarding compensation to those affected, it established that Briones, two of his collaborators and the company itself, who made liable based on the amounts delivered by the customers, less the amount that they would have already received in the liquidation phase.

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In a 200-page sentence, the National Court considered that the philatelic company developed between 1998 and 2006 a massive collection of money from small savers, “who followed the advice of the company’s active agents, professionals convinced of the seriousness of the organization ( …) until making family and friends fall into the speculative net woven around the label”.

Through the advertising of their products, in which they appealed to the “constant and sustained” revaluation of some “overestimated” stamps, Forum built a “closed market, unrelated to that of collectors” relying on a philately of more than 121 million pieces with “low value”.

In this way, the company was only able to maintain activity by retaining investors and attracting new ones.

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