Court hits OneCoin co-founder with $300M fine, 20 years in jail

A federal judge in New York has sentenced Karl Sebastian Greenwood, the co-founder of the purported cryptocurrency OneCoin, to 20 years in prison for his involvement in a $4 billion fraud scheme.

Court hits OneCoin co-founder with $300M fine, 20 years in jail

U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos also ordered Greenwood, who holds dual citizenship in Sweden and the United Kingdom, to forfeit $300 million. Greenwood had pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering charges in December 2022.

Prosecutors had sought a minimum sentence of 30 years, as they considered him the “primary promoter” of OneCoin, which ultimately turned out to be a pyramid scheme that defrauded over 3.5 million people. Greenwood has been in custody since his arrest in Thailand in 2018 and subsequent extradition to the United States.

Karl Sebastian Greenwood’s defense attorneys requested a sentence equivalent to the time he had already served, arguing that he had endured challenging conditions during his detention. Greenwood co-founded OneCoin in 2014 in Sofia, Bulgaria, alongside Ruja Ignatova, also known as the ‘Cryptoqueen.’

Ignatova, a German citizen, has been accused of being a key figure in the OneCoin scheme and was placed on the FBI’s top ten most-wanted list in 2022. Earlier this year, she was back into the spotlight more than five years after vanishing from the public eye. The woman behind the biggest and most blatant frauds in the cryptocurrency history had simply vanished into thin air after stepping off a plane in Greece in 2017.

While rumors and conspiracy theories abound, no one knows for sure where Ignatova has been or even whether she is still alive. However, an investigative report by the Bureau for Investigative Reporting and Data (BIRD) claims the missing Crypto Queen was killed on a yacht in Greece in November 2018.

Per the report, a Bulgarian national called Georgi Georgiev Vasilev was drunk when he revealed that the notorious drug lord Hristoforos Amanatidis, aka Taki, was behind Ruja’s murder. The Bulgarian media outlet further claims that her body was dismembered and tossed in the Ionian Sea.

However, a Twitter handle called ‘Crypto Xpose,’ who has been following OneCoin’s news, cast doubts on the authenticity of BIRD’s conclusions. He pointed out that the FBI does not put deceased on the top 10 most wanted list — a notoriety normally bestowed on suspected cartel leaders, terrorists and killers. He added that Bulgarian police are not taking this revelation seriously since there is no concrete evidence.

The Bulgarian woman, believed to be in her 40s, was listed in January as a beneficial owner of Abbots House Penthouse Limited, which she purchased under a Guernsey-based company name. Lawyers representing Ignatova listed her name on the penthouse that went up for sale with an asking price of $15.5 million which was then downgraded to $13.6 million.