OneCoin compliance officer faces up to 20 years behind bars

Irina Dilkinska, the former head of legal and compliance at OneCoin, has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money-laundering charges in connection with the $4 billion multilevel-marketing scheme orchestrated by OneCoin.

Irina, 42, admitted to helping a lawyer launder over $400 million from the scam through fake Cayman Islands investment funds. She pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Dilkinska faces up to 10 years in prison on the two counts.

United States federal prosecutors charged the Bulgarian woman after being extradited from Sofia earlier in April. She allegedly helped OneCoin operators to create shell companies in order to launder proceeds and manage property belonging to founder Ruja Ignatova.

Among other things, the former executive used a shell company that was falsely described as offering “proprietary consulting services, support and software solutions” that generated €200 million in 2015 through 2016, to disguise the transfer of millions of dollars as purported “investments” into OneCoin lawyer Mark Scott’s funds. US prosecutors said that once Irina learned of Scott’s arrest, she destroyed incriminating documents and sent another co-conspirator incriminating messages.

OneCoin, established in 2014 in Sofia, by Ruja Ignatova and Karl Sebastian Greenwood, was promoted as a cryptocurrency. However, U.S. federal prosecutors have categorized it as a pyramid scheme, where funds from new investors were funneled to early participants and leaders. Despite marketing efforts to portray OneCoin as a legitimate cryptocurrency, it lacked any real value or underlying blockchain technology.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York has been actively pursuing charges against OneCoin’s founders and executives since 2017. Dilkinska’s role went beyond her title as the head of legal and compliance. Instead of ensuring regulatory compliance, she was deeply involved in the operational aspects of the scam, including the transfer of $110 million of OneCoin proceeds to a Cayman Islands entity.

The case has gained international notoriety, particularly following Ignatova’s disappearance and subsequent addition to the FBI’s top 10 most wanted list in June 2022. Meanwhile, Greenwood pleaded guilty to related charges and was sentenced to 20 years in prison in September.

Mark Scott, the lawyer responsible for laundering $400 million from the OneCoin fraud, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Scott’s legal team has been seeking a new trial since, citing false testimony from a government witness in the original trial.

The prosecution witness in question, Konstantin Ignatov, is the brother of Ruja Ignatova, the founder of OneCoin. Konstantin Ignatov testified that Scott knew that OneCoin was a fraudulent operation, but Scott has denied this.