Attorneys Seek Bank of Ireland Execs’ Testimony Against OneCoin Scammer (#GotBitcoin?)
Executives at the Bank of Ireland (BOI) could join a trial in the case against Mark Scott, who allegedly helped launder nearly $400 million via cryptocurrency scam scheme OneCoin. Attorneys Seek Bank of Ireland Execs’ Testimony Against OneCoin Scammer (#GotBitcoin?)
Four BOI Witnesses To Testify Remotely
On Sept. 29, the government of the United States submitted a court motion seeking the testimony of four witnesses via closed-circuit television from a remote location in Ireland.
Initially set for Oct. 7, 2019, the trial has been recently adjourned to Nov. 4, 2019, while a final pretrial conference is scheduled for Oct. 28, as reported by fintech publication FinanceFeeds in early September.
All four witnesses are current or former employees of the BOI, where Scott had corporate bank accounts through which he has allegedly laundered over $300 million in OneCoin fraud proceeds.
The list of witnesses includes Diane Sands, the head of BOI’s Anti-Money Laundering team, BOI foreign direct investment team member Deirdre Ceannt, former executive VP and relationship director Derek Collins, and Greg Begley, who is reportedly expected to provide evidence for Scott’s involvement in the fund transfers.
Specifically, Scott is charged in a one-count indictment with conspiracy to commit money laundering. At the upcoming trial, the government will try to prove that, from 2016–2018, the defendant laundered almost $400 million in proceeds from OneCoin in a series of private equity funds in the British Virgin Islands with accounts at banks in the Cayman Islands, known as Fenero Funds.
Six Unserved Defendants As Of Sept. 3
Established in 2014, OneCoin is known as a major crypto exit scam along with famous crypto scam BitConnect. After a U.S. District Attorney charged OneCoin founders Konstantin Ignatov and his sister Ruja Ignatova in March 2019, a number of defendants in a lawsuit brought by OneCoin clients reportedly remained unserved as of Sept. 3. The six unserved defendants reportedly included OneCoin, Ignatova, Sebastian Greenwood, Irina Andreeva Dilinska, David Pike and Nicole Huesmann.
Scale of OneCoin Scam Unravels Amid Ongoing Court Hearings
With each passing day, the financial nitty-gritty associated with the cryptocurrency-related OneCoin Ponzi scheme continues to become of increasing interest to members of the global crypto community.
The U.S. government’s previous estimate of the scam that raked in a total of $4 billion seems to be well off the mark, as the figure could be more than three to four times the official estimate — this is according to Jamie Bartlett, the person responsible for the BBC’s podcast series The Missing Cryptoqueen.
As part of the show, Bartlett and his team followed a trail of clues to track down Ruja Ignatova, who is widely credited as being the mastermind behind the entire OneCoin scam.
Bartlett also uncovered a host of shocking documents during his research that revealed that OneCoin may have gathered more than $4 billion from just a single continent alone.
To put things into context, it appears as though over the course of the fourth quarter of 2014 and the third quarter of 2016, OneCoin was able to generate a total of 3.4 billion euros (approximately $3.8 billion). However, since the coins had no intrinsic value attached to them, they could not be used to facilitate any real-world deals or purchases.
What Are The Figures?
Instead, the scheme relied solely on heavy marketing tactics and other nefarious ploys — such as Ignatov claiming that OneCoin Ltd. had successfully attracted more than three million members across the globe. However, at its core, the project was no different from any other multilevel marketing scheme, simply because, much like other MLM schemes, OneCoin too doled out handsome commissions to its members for on-boarding new recruits.
Fast forward to 2019 and the aforementioned scam is currently being tried in front of a court of law. The prosecutors allege that Mark Scott, a U.S.-based attorney who had previously worked for reputed law firm Locke Lord LLP, helped Ignatov launder the bulk of the proceeds acquired through the OneCoin scam.
Scott, who has pleaded not guilty, is being accused of employing a wide network of fake companies, offshore bank accounts and fraudulent investment schemes to siphon off more than $400 million in illegal proceeds. As compensation for his shady activities, prosecutor Julieta Lozano pointed out that Scott was paid handsomely in the form of a 57-foot yacht, three multimillion-dollar homes in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and luxury cars, including three Porsches and a Ferrari.
What Is Happening In Court?
To better understand the ongoing situation and how its potential outcome will pan out, Cointelegraph reached out to Matthew Russell Lee, founder of Inner City Press, which is known for its investigative journalism related to the global finance industry. Lee has been following the situation closely and has attended all of the recent hearings concerning OneCoin and the U.S. vs. Scott trial.
When asked about Scott and his claim that he duly informed the FBI about his efforts to determine whether OneCoin might be a pyramid scheme before he got involved with the project, Lee replied:
“Mark Scott’s defense is that he didn’t know that OneCoin, for example, had no blockchain. But his claims of not knowing that something was wrong are undercut by evidence he would only speak with Ruja Ignatova on a ‘crypto-phone’ and in some cases, only in person. Scott traveled to Sophia and, according to cooperating witness Konstantin Ignatov (Ruja’s brother and, until her abrupt disappearance, personal assistant), met with Ruja with nearly all other OneCoin staff told to go home for the day not witness or overhead anything.”
On the subject of Ruja Ignatov’s current whereabouts and how she has been able to evade various law enforcement agencies for so long, Lee told Cointelegraph an intriguing detail: Konstantin Ignatov testified on Nov. 6 that after his sister fled, security personnel who accompanied her told him that she had met with people who spoke Russian. Konstantin Ignatov also added that his sister informed him that she had the support and protection of a “rich and powerful” Russian individual.
Despite all this information now being out in the public domain, the OneCoin project continues to remain fully operational. Even the project’s parent company, OneLife, continues to reiterate the mantra that “OneCoin verifiably fulfills all criteria of the definition of a crypto-currency.”
To make sense of this, Cointelegraph reached out to a Singapore-based crypto executive who claims to have inside knowledge on the matter but wishes to remain anonymous due to privacy concerns. According to the executive:
“OneCoin has at various times, attempted to involve legitimate community players in creating a functioning blockchain for optics.”
The executive also claimed that a lot of the market hype that OneCoin generated upon its release had crossed over to the Singapore scene and that Marcelo Carsil of Macenas, as well as an early Bitcoin developer, had been hired to work for OneCoin at one point.
Lastly, Lee believes that the company’s ongoing operations are just a smokescreen to make it seem as though the project is still going ahead, as laid out in the original roadmap. He further highlighted that the mother of Ruja and Konstantin Ignatov still works at the OneCoin office in Sophia, Bulgaria. However, Lee expressed his doubts about OneCoin, saying, “I cannot imagine, given the evidence, how much longer this can continue.”
What Happens Next?
Even though Scott is currently being tried in court in relation to a sizeable sum of $400 million, the larger question still remains: What happened to the rest of the money? It seems as though there has been little to no accountability as far as the entire score goes, but Lee believes that Ruja Ignatov — and perhaps her sponsors — took a lot of it.
Additionally, he pointed out that as per a recent testimony, a man in the United Arab Emirates named Amer Abdulaziz, who is still free and makes routine public appearances, took around $100 million from the total stash. Lee concluded by saying:
“I am particularly interested in the alleged money launderer(s) who were named in testimony on November 6, and other professional enablers some of whom have gone on to work on other crypto-currency projects.”
OneCoin Founder’s Brother Faces 90-Year Jail Term After Plea Deal
The Department of Justice (DOJ) reached a plea deal with Konstantin Ignatov for his involvement in OneCoin Ltd., a cryptocurrency project based out of Bulgaria.
Ignatov pleaded guilty to multiple counts including money laundering, according to the BBC. The deal was reached Oct. 4, but released publicly Tuesday following his arrest at Los Angles International Airport in March 2019.
He is the brother of OneCoin co-founder Dr Ruja Ignatov, colloquially called “Cryptoqueen” for her actions in the alleged scam and subsequent disappearance.
Under the terms of the plea, Ignatov will not face further charges as they emerge against OneCoin and its constituents, with the exception of possible tax violations. Still, Ignatov faces up 90 years in prison, the BBC said.
OneCoin raised some $4 billion for its cryptocurrency and proprietary ecosystem in funding, in what multiple governments have called a Ponzi scheme. OneCoin denies those allegations and continues to operate.
The BBC said Ignatov could be moved into the U.S. witness protection program depending on the longevity of his sentence. Court documents say individuals have come forward with threats against him.
While testifying in another ongoing case against Mark Scott, a U.S. lawyer accused of laundering funds $400 million from OneCoin, Ignatov revealed more details about his sister, the BBC said. A warrant for her arrest from the DOJ is currently outstanding.
The BBC said Ignatov told the court that his sister acquired a passport and tickets to Vienna and Athens from her home in Bulgaria. She called OneCoin critics “haters” and was wary of being given up to authorities, he said. Although Ignatov hired a private investigator to find her, he has not spoken to her since her disappearance, according to the BBC.
OneCoin Fugitive Cryptoqueen Allegedly Paid $50 M to Lawyer to Launder Funds
United States prosecutors told a Manhattan jury that lawyer Mark S. Scott was paid $50 million to help OneCoin co-founder and current fugitive Ruja Ignatova launder $400 million.
On Nov. 20, Law360 reported that the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office and the New York County district attorney’s office are in the last phase of prosecuting Scott, a former partner at law firm Locke Lord, who allegedly received $50 million to launder a whopping $400 million for Ignatova, also known as the “cryptoqueen.”
Crypto Scam Raised $4.4 Billion
OneCoin is among the crypto industry’s most infamous exit scams. However, the Bulgaria-based firm remains operational to date despite investigators’ allegations that it raised $4.4 billion in a Ponzi scheme.
The U.S. prosecutors accuse Scott of employing a wide network of fake companies, offshore bank accounts and fraudulent investment schemes to launder more than $400 million in ill-gotten funds.
Prosecutor Julieta Lozano had previously said that as compensation for his criminal activities, Scott was paid in the form of a 57-foot yacht, three multimillion-dollar homes in Cape Cod, Massachusetts and luxury cars, including three Porsches and a Ferrari.
Although Scott maintains that he had no knowledge that OneCoin was a scam, prosecutor Nicholas Folly said that the evidence against Scott was “overwhelming” and “obvious.”
Scott’s defense lawyer, on the other hand, told the jury that there is plenty of doubt, making the case that there is no evidence that Mark Scott ever believed OneCoin was a scam.
A spokeswoman for Locke Lord said in a statement that the firm was unaware of Scott’s alleged criminal activities, which occurred after he left, saying:
“Scott, who was with our firm for a little over a year, was charged by the federal government with money laundering almost two years after his departure. We were not aware of his individual activities outside of the firm, and we have been fully cooperating and working with government authorities.”
George Bush’s Brother Met With OneCoin’s ‘Cryptoqueen’
In November, Cointelegraph reported that Neil Bush, brother of former President George W. Bush and son of the late President George H.W. Bush was alleged to have received $300,000 to attend a meeting involving Ruja Ignatova. Scott’s counsel David Garvin said:
“Bush recalled that the head of Hoifu Energy, Dr. Hui Chi Ming, received a bunch of cryptocurrency for an oil deal in Madagascar. Bush had a residual interest in the cryptocurrency from the oil deal. Bush met the woman from the cryptocurrency company, Ruja Ignatova, in Hong Kong with Dr. Hui.”
Lawyer Found Guilty of Money Laundering for OneCoin’s Cryptoqueen
A Manhattan federal jury has found lawyer Mark S. Scott guilty of helping OneCoin co-founder and current fugitive Ruja Ignatova launder $400 million.
On Nov. 21, Law360 reported that the Manhattan jury of six women and six men decided to hand down a guilty verdict to Scott, a former partner at law firm Locke Lord who was suspected of being paid $50 million to launder $400 million for Ignatova, also known as the “cryptoqueen.”
Claim Of Innocence Was Rejected
The jury did not buy Scott’s claim that he had no knowledge that OneCoin was a scam and that he was only doing his best as Ignatova’s lawyer to represent her interests. They arrived at their guilty verdict in only four hours.
Cointelegraph reported yesterday that OneCoin is considered to be among the crypto industry’s most infamous exit scams. Scott reportedly used a wide network of fake companies, offshore bank accounts and fraudulent investment schemes to launder the ill-gotten funds.
To date, the Bulgaria-based firm remains operational despite investigators’ allegations that it raised $4.4 billion in a Ponzi scheme.
Cryptoqueen’s Brother Speaks Against Her
In March 2019, Ignatova’s brother and co-founder of crypto scam OneCoin, Konstantin Ignatov, was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport. He pleaded guilty to the participation in the multi-billion dollar fraud and money laundering. In November Ignatov signed a plea deal and now faces up to 90 years in prison.
Ignatov, who also testified in the trial against Scott, reportedly provided more details against his sister, saying that she had obtained a passport and tickets to Austria and Greece from her home in Bulgaria. However, to date, the cryptoqueen remains at large.
Ignatov reportedly also told law enforcement agencies that his sister informed him that she had the support and protection of a “rich and powerful” Russian individual.
Jury Convicts Crypto Ponzi Scheme OneCoin’s Lawyer on Fraud Charges
Mark Scott, the lawyer behind Ruja Ignatova’s OneCoin, was found guilty of laundering $400 million for the Ponzi scheme on Thursday.
OneCoin has been called a “pyramid scheme” and “multi-level marketing” ploy by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, who have aggressively pressed charges against the international operation they say generated in excess of €3.5 billion ($3.7 billion) in sales revenue. The verdict adds another name to the growing list of convicted OneCoin officials.
Scott was convicted of washing a sizable portion of that haul. He was found guilty Thursday with laundering $400 million starting in 2016. He now faces potentially up to 50 years in prison, as well as disbarment.
The money flowed through an elaborate network of fraudulent private equity investment funds and between international tax havens, from the British Virgin Islands to Ireland, to the Cayman Islands, that obfuscated their source, according to the press release.
In the process, Scott skimmed off $50 million for himself.
“He lined his pockets with over $50 million of the money stolen from victims of the OneCoin scheme,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. “Scott, who boasted of earning ‘50 by 50’ now faces 50 years in prison for his crimes.”
Scott’s conviction in the Southern District of New York comes just over a year after his arrest, and on the heels of last week’s news that Konstantin Ignatov, another high-ranking OneCoin official and Ruja Ignatova’s brother, had reached a plea deal with prosecutors.
Regulators and investigators around the world have derided OneCoin as a blatant scam, with warnings and prosecutions coming out of Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. Chinese authorities alone prosecuted at least 98 OneCoin individuals since September 2017.
OneCoin still operates out of its founder Ruja Ignatova’s home country Bulgaria.
The Department of Justice has issued an arrest warrant for Ruja Ignatova. The OneCoin founder has not been seen since her disappearance in 2017.
Scott’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 21, 2020.
OneCoin Website Goes Offline As Net Closes In On $4B Ponzi Scheme
The website for cryptocurrency Ponzi scheme OneCoin has finally ceased operating, months after United States authorities indicted one of its founders for fraud.
As MLM scam monitoring resource BehindMLM.com noted on Dec. 1, OneCoin.eu no longer returned a live result as of Nov. 30.
“Legal investigation” offlines OneCoin.eu
Upon investigation, a representative from EurID, the domain’s registry, confirmed to the publication that the website was offline due to the criminal proceedings against OneCoin.
“The domain name is under legal investigation. Please further check our WHOIS for the status of the domain name,” a written response reads.
The event marks the latest in a series of revelations in the takedown of OneCoin, which operated for years and defrauded investors of around $4 billion.
As Cointelegraph reported, the legal case last month closed in on a lawyer associated with co-founder Ruja Ignatova, who prosecutors claim is responsible for helping her launder proceeds worth $400 million.
Scams Remain Bitcoin Buzzword
OneCoin first attracted suspicion as far back as 2015, when Cointelegraph released an expose on the back of research from BehindMLM.
In the ensuing years, successive governments worldwide issued warnings about the scheme’s operations, which promised huge returns for comparatively tiny investments.
Ignatova is currently on the run, while her brother, fellow co-founder Konstantin Igantov, recently pled guilty to charges including money laundering and fraud, and faces up to 90 years in prison.
Controversy continues to swell around another cryptocurrency project this month. The creator of altcoin HEX, Richard Hart, attracted widespread accusations of foul play after making various promises including free tokens to Bitcoin (BTC) holders.
HEX describes itself as “the first high interest paying Blockchain.”
New York Court Proceeds Against Man Allegedly Linked To OneCoin
The New York Southern District Court granted a continuance in the lawsuit against David Pike over his alleged link to the OneCoin Ponzi scheme.
Finance news outlet FinanceFeeds reported on Dec. 21 that the continuation of the case was approved until Jan. 12, 2020 based on court documents filed on Dec. 20.
“Fenero Funds” — Tracking OneCoin’s Laundered Money Trail
Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Folly reportedly stated that the parties’ counsels are discussing a potential pre-indictment disposition. The extension has been deemed as appropriate, given that those discussions are still taking place.
Pike was the chief operating officer of an alleged private equity fund known as the “Fenero Funds.” Those funds were reportedly employed to launder money from the OneCoin Ponzi scheme.
Pike is accused of having made materially false statements and representations in front of special agents from the FBI, the IRS Criminal Investigation Division and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York representatives.
$4 Billion Dollar Ponzi Finally Ends
The defendant is alleged to have falsely claimed he was not aware that roughly $400 million was transferred into the aforementioned fund belonged to OneCoin founder Ruja Ignatova or that the money came from the scheme.
As Cointelegraph reported earlier this month, the official website for OneCoin has finally shut down, months after United States authorities indicted one of its founders for running a $4 billion pyramid scheme.
OneCoin Crypto Ponzi Scheme Used Fake Reviews To Improve Its Image
Research conducted by the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) of the Atlantic Council think tank suggests that the infamous cryptocurrency-themed Ponzi scheme OneCoin used fake reviews on TrustPilot and Quora to lure investors.
According to a report published on Jan. 29, OneCoin received an anomalous number of five-star reviews on TrustPilot after the media started negatively covering OneCoin in October 2019.
Per the report, of the 579 TrustPilot reviews of OneCoin, 90% were positive and about 400 of the five-star ratings were published in a single month. DFRLab states that OneCoin also received some one-star ratings, but those were by far outnumbered by positive reviews.
Signs Of Inauthentic Activity
Researchers were unable to guarantee whether the accounts behind the reviews were inauthentic or automated due to TrustPilot’s design, but said that their activity was suspicious:
“October 2019 spike in five-star ratings, however, indicated an abnormal influx of favorable reviews just as OneCoin’s public relations and legal woes mounted. The possibility remains that the influx for both ratings and reviews was organic, though the timing and extreme bias was highly suspicious.”
DFRLab also found profiles praising OneCoin on question-answer platform Quora which showed “inauthentic behaviour, such as no profile pictures, no biographical information, inconsistent posting times, and an exclusive interest in OneCoin-related discussions.”
The researchers show one profile, in which the owner described herself as a “cryptocurrency expert and investor” but only answered questions about OneCoin. The account was active from January to March 2018, and its peak activity was when OneCoin was most active. The report reads:
“As OneCoin’s legal challenges mounted, the company’s pyramid marketing scheme garnered significant attention. Its digital marketing tactics, however, received considerably less scrutiny.”
OneCoin is one of the most well-known scams in the cryptocurrency space. The official OneCoin website only ceased operations in early December 2019. During the same month, the New York Southern District Court granted a continuance in the lawsuit against David Pike — the CFO of a private equity fund — over his alleged link to the scam.
One Coin, Much Drama: OneCoin Ponzi Scheme Lives On As TV Show
The co-founder of cryptocurrency-inspired Ponzi scheme OneCoin faces charges of fraud and money laundering in her absence — but will now become a movie star.
As Hollywood news outlet Deadline reported on Feb. 4, a United States production company has won the rights to a podcast about Ruja Ignatova originally aired by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in the United Kingdom.
OneCoin Drama Plans To “Get The Word Out”
Charting the rise, fall and disappearance of Ignatova, “The Missing Cryptoqueen” saw 3.5 million downloads in four months when it went live in 2019.
Now, New Regency Television will turn the podcast into a full-fledged television drama.
“Hope it continues to get word out about OneCoin around the world,” producer and co-writer, Georgia Catt, tweeted following the news.
As Cointelegraph reported, Ignatova is currently in hiding as prosecutors indict her and her brother, Konstantin Ignatov, on multiple counts of fraud and money laundering. Konstantin has already pleaded guilty to the charges and faces up to 90 years in jail.
OneCoin defrauded investors of around $5 billion in total, Cointelegraph raising suspicions about its activities as far back as 2015.
Ponzi Scheme Suspicions Linger In Crypto
This year, OneCoin’s successes remain pertinent to cryptocurrency participants, as skepticism mounts around other operations which have raised red flags for many. Notably, Hex (HEX), an altcoin that promises investors huge returns but has lost almost all its value over the course of several months, remains at the center of attention.
In January, Cointelegraph noted that a single HEX token was worth less than a single Bitcoin satoshi, an unenviable accolade it retains to this day.
Richard Heart, the self-styled creator of Hex, denies accusations that the project is in any way dishonest.
Unlike Hex, OneCoin was never a cryptocurrency, as its executives maintained full control of exchange and failed to prove the existence of necessary indicators such as a market cap.
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