Five years after Ruja Ignatova, the founder of One Coin, fled, her accomplice has been extradited to the U.S. to face fraud charges. This comes to light with the knowledge that the “cryptoqueen” has been on the run since 2017.
Earlier this year, German authorities had launched investigations on her husband Bjorn Strehl and raided premises in Frankfurt and other cities.
In June, she made it to the FBI Most Wanted List. Along with the red alert, the FBI put out a $100,000 reward for anyone who had valuable information on her. Ruja Ignatova is also wanted in India and over 100 countries for fraudulent investment schemes.
OneCoin, One of The Biggest Crypto Ponzi Schemes Of All Time
OneCoin is a Ponzi cryptocurrency launched in 2014. It was founded by a Bulgaria-based offshore company, OneCoin Ltd, with Ruja Ignatova at the helm of affairs.
Despite the claims the founder and team made about their project’s legitimacy, it was quickly discovered that OneCoin had no blockchain model.
It didn’t exist. It was not actively traded and could not be used for transactional activities. They mainly sold course materials and made a big deal of hosting webinars in cities globally.
OneCoin Beneficiaries Arrested
Ruja Ignatova bailed and was last sighted in Athens with two Russian men, while the co-founder Sebastian Greenwood is in jail in the U.S.
Her brother, Konstantin Ignatov, who took over when the “cryptoqueen” bailed, pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges and was arrested in 2019.
U.S. Attorney and OneCoin lawyer Mark Scott were convicted in 2019 for money laundering and bank fraud worth $400 million and were sentenced to a 20-year jail term. They scammed over three million investors off $4 billion between them and other partners.
Extradition Attempt on The US
Christopher Hamilton, a British nationalist accused of laundering over $100 million for OneCoin founder, received an extradition order to face charges in the United States.
It was delayed, however, when the Briton’s legal team argued that there was no proof that the alleged crimes happened in the United States. They added that it was impossible to pinpoint where most of the harm from OneCoin occurred.
In their argument, the prosecution team pointed out that evidence showed Chris Hamilton received funds from a Florida resident- Gilbert Armenta. Gilbert Armenta also had links to the “cryptoqueen” Ruja Ignatova and controlled a company called Viola Asset Management.
According to a report from Law360, a U.K. judge- Judge Nicholas Rimmer, ruled for the extradition and allowed Chris Hamilton to face charges of wire fraud and money laundering.
Chris Hamilton’s accomplice, Robert McDonald, avoided being taken into U.S. custody. The reason explained he was the primary caregiver for his ill wife. Law360 put that McDonald expressed “clear and genuine suicidal intent, in the event he were to be extradited.”
Although he and McDonald were accused of laundering the $105 million, the ruling judge stated there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove monetary gain by Robert MacDonald.
For Chris Hamilton, the U.S. Department of Justice explained that the extradition process “can take many months or even years to complete.”
While some of the associates involved have been apprehended, the main culprit is still at large. The last known information and description about Ruja Ignatova are presumed to have been altered, as all attempts to arrest her have led to a dead end.