Associates of the 'Cryptoqueen' charged in Germany for $4 billion OneCoin scam
October 19, 2022 4:50 AM
While it is still unclear where "Cryptoqueen" Ruja Ignatova is, charges are piling up against those affiliated with the OneCoin organization.
Allegations of fraud, money laundering, and banking crimes were brought against three associates of fugitive OneCoin founder Ruja Ignatova, also known as the "Cryptoqueen," in a German court.
On October 18th, a lawyer with ties to Ignatova in Munich is scheduled to appear in court on charges that he transferred $19.7 million to Ignatova via the Cayman Islands so that she could buy two apartments in London. According to Bloomberg, a husband and wife are also being investigated for the alleged mishandling of $315.4 million USD in OneCoin customer payments.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Ignatova launched OneCoin in 2014 under the guise of a cryptocurrency and trading project, but it was soon discovered to be a pyramid scheme that duped users with false claims about the project's business and technical aspects, such as a nonexistent token mining structure.
The FBI claims that over three million investors lost about four billion dollars to the scheme, and German prosecutors have noted that:
"The software was only simulating the mining process, so the constantly increasing value was an illusion."
Ignatova has not been seen or heard from since 2017; her last known location was Athens, Greece.
The FBI put her on its most wanted list in June, and as of that month, they were offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to her capture. Angelina Lazar, an economist and crypto supporter, has been accused of bribing the presidents of Serbia and Bulgaria, and her company is wanted for fraud totaling over $4 billion.
Prosecutors have brought charges against three more OneCoin figures in addition to Christoper Hamilton, who is accused of helping launder $105 million in the same scheme in 2014.
It was reported that Hamilton was extradited to the United States at the beginning of August 2021, after a judge in the United Kingdom approved the extradition process for him to face changes in the United States.
At one point, Konstantin Ignatov, the brother of Cryptoqueen, took control of OneCoin. In 2019, he pleaded guilty to several money laundering and fraud-related charges, and in March 2020, a class action lawsuit against him and two of his associates went to trial.
Even now, the mystery surrounding the whereabouts of the missing Cryptoqueen continues to pique the interest of the public; journalist and author Jamie Bartlett is currently hosting a podcast on the subject for the BBC, and his 11 episodes have proven quite popular.
Additionally, on October 16 at the Red Line Festival in South Dublin, Bartlett will hold a public discussion of her book The Missing Cryptoqueen: The Billion Dollar Cryptocurrency Con and the Woman Who Got Away with It, which she published in June.