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French Lawmaker Denies He Was Paid to Promote a Crypto Scam in National Assembly

Tim Alper
Last updated: | 3 min read
The National Assembly, France.
Source: Thomas Dutour/Adobe

A French lawmaker has been accused of promoting LimoCoin Swap (LMCSWAP), a “suspicious” African crypto project – but denies claims he was paid to talk up the coin in the National Assembly by lobbyists.

The claims were the latest to come from the newspapers Le Monde and MediaPart’s investigations into an Israel-based firm named Team Jorge.

MediaPart and Le Monde explained that the MP, Hubert Julien-Laferrière, last year made “off-topic” remarks about a token named LimoCoin Swap (LMCSWAP) at a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Assembly.

The media outlets referred to the token as a “cryptocurrency that was launched by the Cameroonian businessman Emile Parfait Simb.” Since 2022, they noted, hundreds of individuals have accused Parfait Simb of orchestrating a Ponzi scheme.

A report from Jeune Afrique in August 2022 explained that the businessman had emptied his bank accounts and fled his native country.

The coin is built on the Binance-run BNB Chain – and the complaints late year drew a response from Binance Africa.

Julien-Laferrière represents the Ecologist-NUPES coalition of parties and was elected to serve as an MP in central Lyon. He began his career as an MP in 2017.

And the investigators claimed they had evidence that the MP was paid to speak about LimoCoin Swap in the French parliament by the lobbyist Jean-Pierre Duthion.

A graph showing all-time limocoin swap prices.
All-time LimoCoin Swap prices. (Source: CoinMarketCap)

French Lawmaker: ‘Nobody Paid Me to Talk About Crypto in Parliament’

After the allegations were made public, the MP took to Twitter to claim that he was “not being paid by anyone.”

He wrote:

“I strongly deny the assertions that I am ‘at the service’ of Duthion. I refute the idea that I could abuse my status […] in any way…”

Julien-Laferrière claimed that his “cryptocurrencies”-related comments “constituted a manifest error of judgment.”

But he claimed that there was “no other episode” that “could suggest” he would “act under the influence of Duthion, or any other lobbyist.”

Duthion has been accused of collaborating with the BFM-TV news presenter Rachid M’Barki in a scandal that has rocked the French media. Investigators claim that M’Barki took payments from Team Jorge to report on stories at the latter’s request.

BFM-TV has suspended M’Barki pending an internal investigation.

Julien-Laferrière reportedly denied taking money from Duthion. But he reportedly admitted meeting the lobbyist in “top Parisian restaurants” on several occasions – with Duthion footing the bill in each instance.

Parfait Simb, meanwhile, reportedly left Cameroon in the spring of 2022. In January, RFI reported that he had taken up residence in the Central African Republic.

The same media outlet claimed that Parfait Simb last year launched the so-called “African Organization of Russophony,” a pro-Russian group allied with a Russian university and social media “influencers.”

Le Monde reported that a petition to remove the coin from major platforms had already garnered some 8,000 signatures.

The same media outlet remarked that it was “able to identify” several Twitter accounts that “seem to have been created between the end of 2021 and the beginning of 2022 with the aim of defending” LimoCoin Swap, associated companies, and Parfait Simb.

However, the newspaper remarked that “these accounts do not seem to be linked to Team Jorge’s network of fake accounts.”

Alleged victims have claimed that Liyeplimal, the company that issued LimoCoin Swap “performed” a “rug pull.”

“Rug pull”-type scams typically see an issuer launch a crypto and suddenly vanish with their investors’ funds.

A number of Twitter accounts have called the coin – whose current market worth is around $0.002 (down from highs of almost $9) – “Africa’s Bitcoin.”

On the project’s website, Liyeplimal claimed that it would pay investors “interest” every week – and gave details of a range of “24-month” “staking contracts” that offered returns of up to 74%.

A chart showing details of the limocoin swap “staking contracts” from the Liyeplimal website.
Details of the LimoCoin Swap “staking contracts.” (Source: Liyeplimal website)

The website appears not to have been updated since early 2022.