Irina Dilkinska, the head of legal and compliance at OneCoin, has pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges this week. The development comes as a significant milestone in the enduring saga of the infamous cryptocurrency scam that defrauded investors of an estimated $4 billion.
Guilty Plea and Potential Sentence:
- The US District Judge Edgardo Ramos accepted Dilkinska’s guilty plea, marking a crucial point in the legal proceedings. The 42-year-old Bulgarian citizen admitted to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. Each charge carries a potential maximum sentence of five years, possibly resulting in a total sentence of 10 years of imprisonment.
The OneCoin Scheme:
- The elaborate scheme traces back to 2014 when Ruja Ignatova, famously known as “the Cryptoqueen,” and Karl Sebastian Greenwood co-founded OneCoin, a cryptocurrency company based in Bulgaria. While it was initially promoted as a legitimate cryptocurrency, it turned out to be a multi-level marketing scam disguised as a pyramid scheme.
Magnitude of the Scam:
- OneCoin managed to attract over three million investors, accumulating $4.3 billion in sales revenue. They claimed profits of $2.91 billion between Q4 2014 and Q4 2016. However, investigations uncovered the fraudulent nature of the enterprise, revealing its manipulative and deceptive practices.
Complicity in Money Laundering:
- Despite her role purportedly as the Head of Legal and Compliance, Dilkinska is accused of being actively involved in the company’s operations, particularly in facilitating money laundering. Reports suggest her involvement in transferring Fraudulently obtained proceeds of $110 million were transferred to a Cayman Island entity.
Associates’ Sentences and Ongoing Pursuit:
- Karl Sebastian Greenwood was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his involvement in the scam. Meanwhile, Ignatova, who faces charges related to OneCoin fraud and money laundering, disappeared in 2017 and was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted List in 2022, with a substantial reward for information leading to her arrest.
Speculations and Absence:
- Ignatova’s disappearance in 2017 prompted speculations about her whereabouts, with some unverified sources suggesting that she might have met a tragic fate at the hands of a local criminal figure in Bulgaria. However, these theories have not been substantiated, and her current status remains unknown.
The legal proceedings surrounding OneCoin’s fraudulent operations continue to unfold, shedding light on the individuals involved and the staggering extent of the cryptocurrency scam that deceived and defrauded millions of investors worldwide.