German police hunting so-called ‘Crypto Queen’ Ruja Ignatova have now turned their attention to the missing OneCoin fraudster’s husband and business partner, reports Der Spiegel.
Ignatova went missing in October 2017 after duping unsuspecting investors out of an estimated $4 billion worldwide through multi-level crypto Ponzi OneCoin.
Launched in 2014, OneCoin was billed as a cryptocurrency that could be mined, traded, and used to make payments. Ignatova dangled the promise of huge returns from her “Bitcoin killer” and set up a global network of willing OneCoin recruits tasked with luring in new investors.
However, unfortunately for them, it turns out that OneCoin was actually completely useless and had no blockchain or payment system. And while hopeful converts toiled to bring onboard new buyers, Ignatova and her co-founder Sebastian Greenwood were making their millions through the sale of educational materials including courses on cryptocurrencies, investing, and trading.
Since Ignatova’s disappearance, she’s been added to Europol’s list of most-wanted fugitives — with a bounty of €5,000 (around $5,300) — but it was thought that the trail had gone cold. However, as revealed by Der Spiegel, investigators have been focusing on her husband since last August and have confirmed to the German website that they suspect him of money laundering.
Specifically, they claim that “a lawyer from Neu-Isenburg” received €7.69 million ($8.2 million) in dirty money from Ignatova into one of his personal accounts in 2016.
And in January, authorities say they searched a number of apartments and offices in Weilburg, Baden-Baden, Frankfurt, Bad Homburg, Neu-Isenburg, and Vaihingen and have collected a number of pieces of evidence.
OneCoin scammers proving difficult to pin down
While her brother Konstantin, who assumed control of OneCoin after Ignatova’s disappearance, faces 90 years in prison when he’s sentenced in August, she herself is proving to be an ongoing source of frustration for German police.
According to Der Spiegel, 72 tips have been received so far but none have revealed the fugitive’s whereabouts. And things barely get any better when defendants are finally captured and brought to court.
Three OneCoin defendants, including a couple who worked in sales for the dodgy project, are currently on trial in Münster. However, the process has been slowed due to a number of judge’s assistants falling ill or suffering accidents.
According to German outlet NRWZ, “After an accident, a lay judge left the procedure at the end of March. Doctors had classified her as unfit to stand trial for more than three months. The supplementary lay judge has taken over for them.”
“The second lay judge has been ill since the beginning of May. Due to official medical examinations, it is clear that the lay assessor is no longer able to follow the hearing to a sufficient extent and to understand the content to the required extent.”
The trial is due to restart in mid-August.