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.”
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