Australia

Cryptocurrency trader granted bail change for wedding, souvlaki business

A Lamborghini-driving cryptocurrency trader from Melbourne who is facing high level drug trafficking charges has been granted permission to attend a two-day long buck’s party and a wedding.Sam Karagiozis, a 29-year-old entrepreneur who has the words “self made” tattooed on his knuckles, was granted a variation to his bail conditions in the Melbourne Magistrates Court…

A Lamborghini-driving cryptocurrency trader from Melbourne who is facing high level drug trafficking charges has been granted permission to attend a two-day long buck’s party and a wedding.

Sam Karagiozis, a 29-year-old entrepreneur who has the words “self made” tattooed on his knuckles, was granted a variation to his bail conditions in the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

He is charged with 13 offences including importing, possessing and trafficking drugs such as cocaine, MDMA, ketamine and methamphetamine between March 2016 and October 2017.

Mr Karagiozis found fame after he started his own cryptocurrency, Auscoin, in 2017 before he launched a series of “bitcoin” ATMs and a souvlaki business.

Mr Karagiozis wanted to visit his ten souvlaki restaurants and attend his brother’s wedding and two-day long buck’s party with one of his alleged co-offenders, his lawyer Dermot Dann QC told the court on Tuesday.

His bail conditions — including a curfew and non-association provisions — prohibited him from attending.

Magistrate Andrew McKenna questioned what Mr Karagiozis would be doing at the restaurants.

“I doubt he’d be rolling up any souvlakis,” Mr McKenna said.

But Mr Dann argued his client would be working there and not just driving past.

“What he wants to be able to do is be on site at any one of those restaurants as the need arises,” the lawyer said.

Mr Karagiozis had no prior convictions, had complied with his current bail conditions for 17 months and still had a surety in place for $600,000, the court heard.

Current coronavirus travel restrictions meant he could not leave the country and he had surrendered his passport, Mr Dann said.

The cryptotrader requested permission to be part of his brother’s wedding later this month and also attend a two-day long buck’s party in advance of the wedding.

Mr McKenna said a family member “implored the court to have a heart” in relation to the wedding in a letter tendered on Mr Karagiozis’s behalf.

Prosecutor Rosalind Avis opposed the application, arguing the case against Mr Karagiozis was strong and police allege he was the “boss” of the drug network.

“He was effectively the head of the operation,” Ms Avis told the court.

But Mr McKenna decided to cancel the curfew and vary the conditions so Mr Karagiozis could attend the stag event and the wedding.

He was barred from discussing the allegations, court case or any proceedings with his alleged co-offender at the events, the magistrate ordered.

“They can discuss how wonderfully well the wedding is going, the weather, the progress of the pandemic but nothing related to these proceedings or these charges,” Mr McKenna said.

He also cancelled Mr Karagiozis’s curfew because of his businesses and labelled it “undesirable and unnecessary”.

Mr Karagiozis must still abide by other conditions including twice-weekly reporting to police, not to contact prosecution witnesses, not to contact his co-accused and not to leave Victoria.

He will next face court in March.

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