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The Case of One Coin

25 November 2019
Author: Sergey Budylin
Mass media:

A U.S. lawyer, Mark S. Scott, was convicted in New York following a jury trial for his role in a cryptocurrency scheme. According to the prosecution, the crypocurrency, known as “OneCoin”, was a massive fraudulent scheme designed to defraud investors.


The cryptocurrency was first issued in 2014; the founder of the project was Dr. Ruja Ignatova of Sofia, Bolgaria.  In 2014-2016 some EUR 3 bln was collected form investors.  The clients were paid for attracting new clients.  According to the prosecution, the whole arrangement was a fraudulent Ponzi scheme.

The lawyer established several investment funds (“fraudulent” funds, according to the prosecutors) in the British Virgin Islands, used to channel funds to and from the operational companies of the project.  The lawyer also opened bank accounts for the funds, providing false information to the banks (including U.S. ones) about the origin and destination of the money.  The amount of the channeled funds was some US$ 400 mln; the lawyer’s commission was US$ 50 mln.  (He is now 51, and he boasted that he earned “50 by 50”.)

In 2018 the lawyer was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering; later a charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud was added to that.  Lawyer argued that he only provided legal services to a client.  However, in November 2019 a jury found him guilty on both charges.  The sentencing is expected in February 2020.

Konstantin Ignatov, a brother of Dr. Ruja Ignatova, testified as a prosecution witness.  Believe it or not, after the arrest of the lawyer he decided to visit the U.S to solicit some more investments into OneCoin.  In March 2019 he was arrested in the U.S. and charged.  As a part of a deal with the prosecution he pleaded guilty on some charges and agreed to testify.  Dr. Ruja Ignatova mysteriously disappeared in 2017 and is currently unavailable to the U.S. justice system.

The OneCoin project seems to be still in business.



U.S. Attorney’s Office press release

may be interesting