Konstantin Ignatov, who is accused of co-masterminding cryptocurrency pyramid scheme OneCoin working under his sister Ruja Ignatova, plead guilty to several charges, including money laundering and fraud.
According to the BBC, Ignatov reached a deal with federal prosecutors on October 4 and appeared in court to enter his plea. Prosecutors didn’t drop any counts of fraud or tax violations that may emerge, but Ignatov won’t face further criminal charges related to the crypto scam that defrauded investors out of over $4 billion.
He faces up to 90 years in prison, though he’s more likely to get less because he cooperated with authorities. The BBC report also states that Ignatov may qualify for the US witness protection scheme, where he could relocate and acquire a new identity, as cooperation with the authorities may “reveal activities of individuals who might use violence against him or his family.”
Despite desperately attempting to diminish his role within OneCoin, Ignatov ultimately revealed some details about the disappearance of his sister, implying even he was duped by Ignatova. He told the judge that the OneCoin founder described critics of her exit-scam as “haters,” and that she was afraid somebody close to her was going to give her up to the FBI.
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Ignatov, who is currently being held at the Metropolitan Correction Center, claims that Ignatova had got hold of a “big passport” and asked him to get her plane tickets to Vienna, Austria, and then Athens, Greece.
US lawyer arrested for laundering OneCoin money
OneCoin was founded in 2014 by Bulgarian businesswoman and Ruja Ignatova, who served as OneCoin’s top leader until her disappearance two years ago. Since 2016, the project has been a subject of investigations in China and India, and several regulators have issued warnings against its operations.
A few months later, Ignatova was arrested in India, along with another 30 individuals, charged with running a scam involving thousands of investors. Indian police noted that OneCoin money was stored in 35 different bank accounts, and the majority of it was transferred to an unknown location shortly after the arrests were made.
The FBI has also arrested Mark Scott, a former partner with the international law firm Locke Lord, who has been accused of laundering approximately $400 million, which investigators claim is the proceeds of OneCoin scheme. The trial of Scott has begun in New York last week.
Investigators say that Scott laundered funds through hedge funds in the Cayman Islands and sent the majority of these funds back to the unnamed founders of the scheme.