Australian billionaire mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest has launched criminal proceedings against social media giant Facebook, alleging the company has breached Australia’s money laundering laws by failing to prevent false cryptocurrency advertisements.
- Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest alleges Facebook was “criminally reckless” by failing to take down false cryptocurrency scam advertisements using his image
- He says he was motivated to launch proceedings to protect everyday Australians from being targeted by similar schemes on the social media site
- An initial hearing into the matter will be held in the WA Magistrates Court next month
In the proceedings lodged in the Western Australia Magistrates Court, Mr Forrest alleges the company repeatedly failed to take down posts by scammers that use his image to promote cryptocurrency investments, which have appeared on the website since March 2019.
He claims that Facebook was “criminally reckless” by failing to take down the false advertisements on the platform, and that the company breached Australia’s money-laundering laws by not doing enough to stop the scams.
Mr Forrest also alleges that Facebook — which has since rebranded to Meta — “failed to create controls or a corporate culture to prevent its systems being used to commit crime”.
The criminal proceedings come after Mr Forrest requested Facebook prevent his image being used to promote cryptocurrency schemes, including in an open letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in November 2019.
In a statement, Mr Forrest said he was launching the “world-first” action on behalf of “everyday Australians” to protect their savings from being “swindled away by scammers”.
“I’m concerned about innocent Australians being scammed through clickbait advertising on social media,” he said.
Mr Forrest said he wanted people from around the world protected against similar schemes.
“I want social media companies to use much more of their vast resources and billions of dollars in annual revenue to protect vulnerable people — the people who are targeted and fall victim to these horrible scams with their hard-earned savings,” he said.
“Social media is part of our lives, but it’s in the public interest for more to be done to ensure fraud on social media platforms is eliminated or significantly reduced.
The charges have been brought under Part 10 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code, with the consent of the Commonwealth Attorney-General, Mr Forrest said.
An initial hearing into the case will he held in the Western Australia Magistrates Court on March 28.
Mr Forrest said he also launched civil proceedings in California against the company last September, seeking injunctive relief and other remedies.
He said the separate case was pending in the Superior Court of California.
A spokesperson from Meta said the company was unable to comment on the court action, but provided a broader statement about scams on Facebook.
“We don’t want ads seeking to scam people out of money or mislead people on Facebook — they violate our policies and are not good for our community,” a spokesperson said.
“We take a multifaceted approach to stop these ads, we work not just to detect and reject the ads themselves but also block advertisers from our services and, in some cases, take court action to enforce our policies.
“We’re committed to keeping these people off our platform.”