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Paul Bergholts, alleged leader of Juicy Fields, detained in the Dominican Republic

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Paul Bergholts, the alleged leader of the Juicy Fields pyramid scheme, has been arrested in the Dominican Republic and will undergo an assessment session for coercive measures on April 18th. The arrest of Bergholts, who is Russian but had false passports of other nationalities, was announced by the Dominican authorities, in collaboration with Europol, but it is not yet known whether or not there will be an extradition request or whether it will be accepted by the judicial entities of the Dominican Republic. 

Note 1: This article was updated at 01:40 on Tuesday to include details and statements, namely from the detained Paul Bergholts, his constituent, Lawyer Hilario German. The last paragraph was also updated, as it has not yet been established that the account mentioned is actually that of Paul Bergholts or that he is a contributor to the mentioned publication. Regarding the spelling of the name, variations arise, which is why it was decided to use “Paul Bergholts”.

Note 2: This article was updated at 23:26 on Tuesday to include statements from the detainee, from the full video of the statements, which complete the information originally published.

The famous Juicy Fields case harmed around 186 thousand citizens and involved more than 645 million euros, announced Europol on April 11, when he detained nine other suspects. Paul Bergholts, one of the main figures associated with the alleged scheme ponzi, was captured in the Dominican Republic in possession of several passports, Russian and other nationalities, confirming suspicions about the use of false identities. He will appear on Thursday, April 18th at noon local time, before a judge to determine coercive measures and assess his extradition to Spain, if requested. Presumably, it is in Spain where the theater of judicial operations will take place, which will now begin with the various people detained and involved in the process, which could soon include the Russian citizen.

“Unfounded Extradition”, considers defense lawyer

The lawyer for Sergei Berezin and/or Paul Bergholts, recently detained in the country and the subject of an extradition request from Spain, contested the request, considering it unfounded. According to him, the alleged crime of fraud attributed to his client does not qualify as a serious crime, in accordance with the understanding of international law and treaties.

The lawyer, José Hilario German, stated that the extradition should be rejected as it does not meet the criteria for serious crimes. The extradition hearing, initially scheduled for Monday, it was postponed, to allow the defense to review the extradition request and to assign a court interpreter to the accused.

Bergholts calls for “fair trial”

Paul Bergholts even made statements to the local media, in which he made it known that he will strive to have a “fair trial” in Spain (if extradition is carried out at the request of Europol). Asked about his position regarding the accusation and extradition attempt, the Russian citizen assumes himself only as a suspect, and leaves conditions to continue his collaboration in the case: “for now I am just a suspect in this case, they want to make me questions, but firstly I have the conditions to go to Spain, I want it to be fair”. Paul Bergholts also has a somewhat illuminating moment when he states that he wants to “see the evidence first”, but when asked what the specific conditions would be, the Russian citizen replied that he did not have any conditions.

Paul Bergholts, according to the local press, said that “he believes in justice, but for it to happen, I have to be outside the territory where complaints are filed against me”. He states that he is unavailable to cooperate and travel to Madrid without knowing for sure what charges are being charged against him, believing “in the justice of the Dominican Republic”, and that he will “wait until the evidence is provided”.

The majority shareholder of Juicy Fields also spoke to the injured parties, “so far this is all a big mistake and I'm sorry for everyone [the injured parties]”, also expressing his affinity with cannabis: “cannabis is something I love, and that I protect.” The Russian citizen states at the end of the video and in his last statement that “I made a promise to myself to serve and protect cannabis. Cannabis is something I trust, I don’t trust anything else.”

German lawyer Viktor Bitner with Alan Glanse, who was CEO of Juicy Fields

Who is Paul Bergholts?

Also known as Sergei Berezin, Paul Bergholts is considered one of the main investors behind Juicy Fields and his passport photo was already included in some documents published in Telegram groups, as early as July 2022, when the scandal broke. According to the Spanish newspaper País Financiero, it was Bergholts who controlled the majority of Juicy Fields' shares.

Juicy Grow GmbH was owned by three businessmen of Russian nationality, with 80% of its shares controlled by the same three individuals: Paul Bergholts was the largest shareholder, with 51%, with Alex Vaimer and Vasily Kadinski both holding 24,5% of the shares. actions. The companies' operations were managed by lawyer Viktor Bitner, whose passport was also included in the documents published in Telegram groups of injured parties in July 2022.

Under the name Paul Bergholz, Bergholts would have a LinkedIn page where he was never active, but where he presented himself as a market researcher for Cannabis Business Times magazine and having experience in strategic business development at Curaleaf between February 2018 and April 2019. The profile, which has an image alluding to Juicy Fields, It has no activity, has not been verified and may be fake. However, CannaReporter questioned Cannabis Business Times about whether Paul Bergholts is actually a contributor to the publication, but no response has yet been received from the publication. We are also reaching out to Curaleaf for feedback and Europol for more details on this investigation.

Paul Bergholts' LinkedIn profile photo

 

 

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[Disclaimer: Please note that this text was originally written in Portuguese and is translated into English and other languages ​​using an automatic translator. Some words may differ from the original and typos or errors may occur in other languages.]

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I am one of the directors of CannaReporter, which I founded together with Laura Ramos. I am from the unique Island of Madeira, where I currently reside. While I was in Lisbon at FCUL studying Physical Engineering, I became involved in the national hemp and cannabis scene and participated in several associations, some of which I am still a member of. I follow the global industry and especially legislative advances regarding the different uses of cannabis.

I can be contacted by email at joao.costa@cannareporter.eu

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