Updated April 12th, 2024 at 17:36 IST

Australian prosecutor drops Andrew Forrest’s case against Meta

Forrest accuses Meta of violating Australia's anti-money laundering laws by enabling third-party scammers to promote farud crypto schemes using his face.

Reported by: Business Desk
Meta | Image:Unsplash
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Forrest vs Meta: Australian prosecutors have ceased mining magnate Andrew Forrest's criminal prosecution of Meta over alleged scam cryptocurrency advertisements on Facebook featuring his likeness. This development poses a setback for Forrest, who owns 37 per cent of iron ore producer Fortescue Metals Group and ranks as Australia's second-richest individual, in his pursuit to hold the tech giant accountable. However, a separate civil lawsuit against Meta in California remains ongoing.

A spokesperson for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions stated on Friday that insufficient evidence prompted the discontinuation of the prosecution, without elaborating further. 

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Forrest accuses Meta of violating Australia's anti-money laundering laws by enabling third-party scammers to promote fraudulent cryptocurrency schemes using his image, suggesting his endorsement.

Forrest pursued the lawsuit under Australian laws permitting individuals to criminally prosecute foreign corporations with the attorney general's consent. Expressing disappointment, Forrest remarked that the dismissal was "a tragedy for innocent parents and grandparents who have lost their life savings."

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In response, a Meta spokesperson acknowledged the complexity of combating scams, expressing sympathy for those affected and reaffirming the company's commitment to preventing such activities. Despite this setback, Forrest intends to continue the California case, alleging Meta's failure to prevent the fraudulent advertisements despite assurances in 2019 adequately.

According to Forrest's filing, over 1,000 deceptive advertisements appeared on Facebook from April 2023 to November 2023, resulting in substantial losses for deceived individuals. Meta has sought dismissal of Forrest's lawsuit, citing a US law exempting internet platforms from liability for third-party content. Forrest argues that this exemption applies only domestically, not internationally.

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(With Reuters inputs)

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Published April 12th, 2024 at 17:36 IST