Zoe Generation: Arrested in the Dominican Republic the Argentine Leonardo Cositorto, accused of pyramid scheme | International

Argentine Leonardo Cositorto after his arrest in Santo Domingo.Public Prosecutor’s Office of Córdoba

When the Argentine Justice began to investigate Leonardo Cositorto on suspicion that he was leading a huge pyramid scheme, the Argentine businessman fled the country. He passed through Colombia and then arrived in the Dominican Republic, where he was arrested Monday by Interpol. During the month and a half in which he remained a fugitive, dozens of people crowded in front of the closed offices of Generación Zoe to try to recover the money they had invested. Other others were connected to the transmissions that he made at night from an unknown whereabouts and thanks to which it has been possible to locate and arrest him.

The Argentine Foreign Ministry will request the extradition of Cositorto so that he can be tried in Argentina, where he is accused of illicit association and fraud in the town of Villa María, in the province of Córdoba. For the same cause there are already almost twenty detainees, among them his number two, Max Batista; his accountant, Norman Prospero, and five policemen. The Argentine Justice is still looking for former judge Luis Yrimia, who served as the legal director of Generación Zoe.

Cositorto changed his address at least three times during his stay in Santo Domingo, the Dominican capital. The police arrested him in an apartment overlooking the sea from which this weekend Cositorto once again asked his followers in a Zoom broadcast to trust him and asked for new investments for his latest project, Sunrise Coach. Those cyber connections allowed Interpol to track him down.

Nearly 700 people —including Argentines, Uruguayans, Paraguayans and Colombians— have also filed a complaint in Buenos Aires for alleged fraud through the legal firm of Ignacio Trimarco. In addition, the Argentine Justice investigates the Zoe conglomerate also in another case, for possible money laundering. To date, federal judge Ariel Lijo has ordered a dozen raids on alleged headquarters of the firm. Some of them weren’t really offices at all. Procelac, the tax division specialized in money laundering, for its part recorded millionaire transactions from the cryptocurrency wallets of Generación Zoe.

Generación Zoe expanded to more than a dozen countries, not only in Latin America but also in Spain and the United States. The biggest attraction they offered was their virtual wallet and the Zoe Cash cryptocurrency. Investors were required to make a minimum contribution of $2,000, a balance that was immobilized for one year. In exchange, they received 7.5% interest in dollars each month, but if they managed to convince others to follow in their footsteps, the benefit could climb to 20%. According to estimates from sources with access to the case, the alleged pyramid scheme may exceed $20 million.

“The platform no longer runs. There is no more than 7.5%. There were problems, bribes and people who invented things. We are going to check the accounts in Argentina and Colombia and we are going to sign agreements with investors, favoring those who entered since November,” Cositorto admitted in a Zoom in mid-March, when he announced that he was going to create a new company, Sunrise Coach.

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“They continue to make fun of people,” Trimarco said then, who said that they had been offered a four-month debt restructuring plan that had the sole objective of buying more time.

The business built by Cositorto began to falter at the end of 2021, when they were unable to make some payments. From there, some banks closed accounts, the Argentine National Securities Commission (CNV) opened an administrative summary for “the possible realization of irregular public offering and intermediation in the field of capital markets” and issued notices to regulatory bodies from Colombia, Spain and Paraguay. After his capture, Cositorto will have to respond to the accusations in court.

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