OneCoin founder Karl Sebastian Greenwood has been found guilty of multiple charges, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice on Dec. 16.
Greenwood pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Each of those charges carries a maximum potential sentence of 20 years in prison. Greenwood’s actual sentence will be determined by a judge in April 2023.
Greenwood has been detained since July 2018, when he was arrested in Thailand. He was extradited to the U.S. to face charges in October 2018.
OneCoin began to operate out of Bulgaria in 2014, acting as a multi-level marketing scheme in which members earned money by recruiting further investors. Despite attracting numerous investors, OneCoin quickly became infamous and gained a reputation as a Ponzi scheme as early as 2016 as it failed to pay investors.
The DOJ said today that the OneCoin scam attracted investments from its victims amounting to more than $4 billion.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams went on to call the project “one of the largest international fraud schemes ever perpetrated. In a further statement, Williams added:
“Greenwood’s lies were designed with one goal, to get everyday people … to part with their hard-earned money … and to line his own pockets to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.”
OneCoin was co-founded by “crypto queen” Ruja Ignatova, who has been at large since a warrant for her arrest was issued in October 2017.
The DOJ’s announcement today explained that Greenwood and Ignatova deliberately defrauded investors by misrepresenting various aspects of OneCoin. In internal conversations, Ignatova even referred to OneCoin as a “trashy coin” and suggested that she and Greenwood “take the money and run.”
Greenwood and Ignatova are not the only project associates to face trial. OneCoin crisis manager Frank Schneider was charged earlier this month and now faces trial.
Christopher Hamilton and Robert McDonald, who allegedly helped the project launder funds, also face charges. The latest developments in those cases occurred in August.