Karl Sebastian Greenwood, one of the co-founders behind the notorious crypto scheme OneCoin, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York on Sept. 12.
Authorities said Greenwood worked with the notorious fugitive Ruja Ignatova, also known as “Cryptoqeen,” on OneCoin, which brought in more than $4 billion of investments starting in 2014.
They added that Greenwood was responsible for conceptualizing OneCoin’s multi-level marketing (MLM) structure, noting that he acted as a “global master distributor” and leader for the scheme. Through commissions, Greenwood personally earned 5% of monthly OneCoin sales and ultimately gained $300 million from the scheme. He later spent millions of dollars on personal items, luxury resorts, and travel.
Authorities emphasized that Greenwood and Ignatova often compared OneCoin to Bitcoin despite the fraudulent nature of their own offering. Greenwood and others falsely claimed that OneCoin’s value was based on supply and demand when, in fact, its supposed value was actually set arbitrarily by the OneCoin team.
The office also said that Greenwood lied about aspects of OneCoin, including non-existent mining pools and blockchains. Greenwood and Ignatova explicitly allocated “fake coins” to investors in their private messages, according to authorities.
Greenwood was arrested in Thailand in July 2018 and was extradited to the U.S. in October 2018. He was convicted on various charges in December 2022. In addition to serving his 20-year prison sentence, he will pay $300 million in forfeiture.
Other OneCoin associates at large, on trial
The U.S. Attorney’s Office noted that Ignatova, the central figure behind OneCoin, faced charges in 2017 but remains at large and is now on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted List. She is also on a similar European wanted list. Enforcement agencies have not verified recent reports suggesting that Igantova was murdered in 2018.
Another OneCoin member, Frank Schneider, was set to undergo trial in December 2022. However, recent reports suggest that he disappeared prior to extradition to the U.S.
Other participants in the scheme are in various stages of prosecution. Irina Dilkinska faced charges in March 2023; Christopher Hamilton faced extradition in late 2022 and is currently fighting the extradition order; Mark Scott was convicted in 2019.
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