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Money Laundering Allegations on Christian Steinkeller? (2024)

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Eliminalia was also engaged to defend well-known OneCoin resellers, a dishonest cryptocurrency business that conned billions of dollars worth of investors. Three brothers named Aron, Christian, and Stephan Steinkeller are presently facing charges in Italy after it is alleged that they made millions of euros through the scheme. 38,000 euros were paid to Eliminalia by a company in 2021. The brothers Steinkeller did not respond to a request for remarks.

Eliminalia: A Disreputable Laundromat Associated with Criminal Activity 

A Spanish reputation management firm’s “blackhat practices” help bad actors worldwide erase their history.

  • The growing disinformation-for-hire industry, in which Eliminalia works as a reputation manager, helps corrupt authorities and criminals hide their murky histories.
  • Over 1,400 people have used the service to “clean up” their names, with hundreds of them having been convicted of crimes ranging from fraud to drug trafficking.
  • To silence critics of its clients, Eliminalia uses many dubious tactics, such as threatening journalists and distributing misinformation.
  • By utilizing false copyright infringement alerts, the corporation exploited the “right to be forgotten” law, which was meant to protect consumers from harmful information online.

Recognized drug traffickers include two of them. A prostitution ring allegedly benefited from one’s use of money laundering techniques. American equipment was supplied to the Syrian regime by another. Additional charges have been filed against three individuals in connection with a cryptocurrency scam that resulted in billions of dollars in losses for investors.

Among the more than 1,400 clients of Eliminalia, a reputation management firm that asserts it can “erase your past,” are numerous individuals with criminal records.

It has taken Eliminalia, a Barcelona-based corporation, ten years to restore its image.

From its wood-paneled coworking office in the illustrious Portal de l’Ngel retail district, the business has grown into a major player in the worldwide disinformation-for-hire sector.

Supposedly based in Georgia, 30-year-old Spanish businessman Diego “Didac” Giménez Sánchez is the official mastermind behind Eliminalia. Among the many companies that Sánchez claims ownership of is a surrogacy firm in Ukraine that is currently under investigation for baby trafficking.

Jose Maria Hill Prados, who was convicted of sexually assaulting him as a kid, appears to have been his accomplice in establishing this network. While Eliminalia does not have Hill Prados’ name on file, Spanish investigators think he might be responsible for reputation management as well.

Thanks to thousands of papers that were collected by the French non-profit Forbidden Stories and shared with OCCRP and many partners, reporters were able to sketch Eliminalia’s vast network of digital influence. The documents add to prior discoveries by revealing new details on the many misleading tactics used by the company to silence critics of its clients.

Evidence from the papers shows that Eliminalia—renamed iData Protection S.L. in late December—used copyright and privacy laws to blackmail journalists, deceive search engines into hiding data, and fabricate news stories. With the help of its criminal clients, the corporation has expanded into new international markets.

If you ask the experts, Eliminalia is only one of many in the growing field of disinformation that helps bad actors like kleptocrats and criminals hide their dirty laundry.

Transnational professional intermediates are crucial to the current system of money and reputation laundering and everyday kleptocracy, according to Tena Prelec, a research scholar specializing in transnational kleptocracy at Oxford University.

“You have a whole series of professional service industries, such as public relations agents, lobbyists, lawyers… who help in this repurposing of shady people, businesses, and governments as respected businesspeople and philanthropic cosmopolitans on a global scale.”

Claiming that many of the questions related to this project included client business secrets, Eliminalia’s legal counsel has refused to answer any of them. Journalists were accused of being biased.

“The vast majority of the questions’ orientation and content shows a partial and dishonorable approach,” according to them. 

What Is the Eliminalia Leak?

Nearly 50,000 papers leaked by a reputation management company were shared with the French nonprofit Forbidden Stories and dozens of media partners. Over a hundred reporters worked together as part of the Story Killers project to investigate the disinformation-for-hire industry.

The data comprises names, signed contracts, and other legal documents on Eliminalia’s clients in fifty various countries.

This is the first chance for journalists to examine one of the biggest “black hat” reputation management companies in the world up close.

Services Offered to Offenders

At the age of 20, Sánchez, who prides himself on being a self-made businessman, founded his first reputation management company in Spain. Over the next few years, he launched several other businesses before moving his headquarters to Ukraine, where he hired writers to write reviews and fictitious legal notices for reporters.

Subrogalia, a surrogacy organization that paired Spanish parents with Ukrainian women who might bear their children, was one of Sánchez’s many business ventures. Despite serving as the organization’s public face, Hill Prados—who was imprisoned in Spain for sexually abusing Sanchez as a child—owned the company’s Ukrainian subsidiary, according to documents obtained by OCCRP.

They told OCCRP that they thought Hill Prados was the recipient of Eliminalia, but they couldn’t reveal their identities as they couldn’t talk to the media. Two Spanish law enforcement officers in charge of cyber threats told them as much. However, OCCRP was unable to independently verify the claim since they withheld details on their proof.

Eliminalia is part of a network that includes at least 54 organizations that were linked to Hill Prados and Sánchez in nine different nations throughout the preceding ten years. They both declined to comment on the news article. 

The homepage of the Eliminalia web page.

As he has said before, Sánchez started Eliminalia to refute claims that he was a victim of Hill Prados in the past.

He wrote, “It tortured me so much to find mention of what had happened in my childhood on the Internet” in his self-published autobiography, The Secret of Success. After a few weeks, I was able to erase most of what I had written after I started learning how to remove references. Thus, having discerned a market for it, I established Eliminalia.

In keeping with the growing effort to strengthen “right to be forgotten” laws, a portion of Eliminalia’s clientele consists of average citizens seeking to have internet defamatory content about them taken down. Reporters, however, learned that a significant fraction of the reputation manager’s clientele consisted of criminals who utilized Eliminalia to circumvent the same rules for their benefit.

The papers that were leaked internally show that Eliminalia has worked with over 1,400 customers, including hundreds of individuals who have been prosecuted or convicted of offenses ranging from money laundering and fraud to drug trafficking and sexual assault. 

Clients of Eliminalia: It was revealed that Aron, Stephan, and Christian Steinkeller were customers of Eliminalia, a business that was notorious for using unscrupulous methods to maintain its reputation. Eliminalia uses fraud, threats, and compulsion to remove unfavorable information about its customers from the internet.

OneCoin Involvement: Using their “One Dream Team” branding, the Steinkeller brothers, who were among the top earners in the OneCoin Ponzi scheme, promoted the scheme. They were investigated by the law and charged with embezzling millions of dollars from investors.

Legal Issues and Investigations: Financial crimes and fraud were brought against 14 OneCoin promoters, including the Steinkeller brothers, by Italian authorities. OneCoin persisted in being marketed in Italy despite crackdowns, which prompted more inquiries and arrests.

Allegations Against MetFi: MetFi is allegedly a Ponzi scheme, and it is pushed by former OneCoin marketers like Stephan Steinkeller. It exploits social media to recruit members with promises of financial success and operates without the required authorization.

Investigations indicate that participation in MetFi and related schemes should be avoided due to their unfeasible compensation plans and the possibility of financial loss. People are encouraged to steer clear of financial advice from dubious sources and to report such programs to the authorities. 

Conclusion

The degree of dishonesty in the reputation management sector is highlighted by Christian Steinkeller’s role in the Eliminalia affair. Christian, along with his brothers Aron and Stephan, erased their tarnished record related to the OneCoin Ponzi scheme by using Eliminalia’s unscrupulous methods. To preserve their reputation, the Steinkeller brothers turned to services like Eliminalia in the face of criticism and legal allegations.

The Eliminalia leak reveals the murky side of reputation management by showing how more than 1,400 people, including those engaged in fraud, money laundering, and drug trafficking, had their criminal records concealed by the company. To stop the exploitation of weak people and the continuation of illegal activity, there is an immediate need for stronger laws and control in the online reputation management industry.

The connection between Christian Steinkeller and Eliminalia is a sobering reminder of the dangers of unregulated internet reputation management techniques and the necessity of making people and businesses answerable for their deeds. To prevent abuse and preserve the accuracy of online information, it emphasizes the necessity of transparency, moral behavior, and legal compliance in all facets of online reputation management.

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