One of the founders of the crypto pyramid Onecoin, British and Swedish national Karl Greenwood, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison in the United States. Greenwood was the architect of the scam’s multi-level marketing structure and served as Onecoin’s global master distributor.
Cryptoqueen Ruja Ignatova’s Business Partner Gets Lengthy Sentence for Onecoin Role
Karl Sebastian Greenwood, one of the key figures in crypto history’s most notorious Ponzi scheme, Onecoin, is going to spend two decades in prison. The sentence, imposed by U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos, was announced on Tuesday by United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams.
Greenwood co-founded Onecoin, which was based in Sofia, Bulgaria and started operations in 2014, together with Ruja Ignatova, a Bulgarian-born German national dubbed the “missing Cryptoqueen” as she is still at large. Onecoin marketed and sold a fake cryptocurrency by the same name through a global multi-level marketing (MLM) network.
Ruja Ignatova and Karl GreenwoodAs a result of their activities and misrepresentations, at least 3.5 million victims around the world, including from the U.S., invested $4 billion in the scam between the fourth quarter of 2014 and the fourth quarter of 2016 alone. Greenwood was Onecoin’s global master distributor and the leader of the MLM network.
Onecoin members received commissions for recruiting others to buy crypto packages. Greenwood, a citizen of Sweden and the United Kingdom, earned 5% of the monthly sales, allegedly making around $300 million which he was ordered to pay in forfeiture in addition to the prison term, a press released detailed. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams was quoted as stating:
As a founder and leader of Onecoin, Karl Sebastian Greenwood operated one of the largest fraud schemes ever perpetrated. Greenwood and his co-conspirators, including fugitive Ruja Ignatova, conned unsuspecting victims out of billions of dollars with promises of a ‘financial revolution’ and claims that Onecoin would be the ‘Bitcoin killer.’
In reality, the coins issued by the crypto pyramid were worthless and their value was set by the fraudsters. Onecoin falsely claimed that they were mined like legitimate cryptocurrencies and that their transactions were recorded on a private blockchain. “We hope this lengthy sentence resonates in the financial sector and deters anyone who may be tempted to lie to investors and exploit the cryptocurrency ecosystem through fraud,” Williams added.
Sebastian Greenwood was arrested in July 2018, at his residence on the island of Koh Samui, Thailand. He was extradited to the United States to face fraud and money laundering charges in October, of the same year. In December 2022, he pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges in Manhattan federal court.
Onecoin’s mastermind, Ruja Ignatova, is still wanted by Interpol, Europol, and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). She was last seen on Oct. 25, 2017, when she took a flight from Sofia to the Greek capital, Athens. Media reports have occasionally released information based on various sources about her suspected whereabouts. And according to one of them, she was killed in Greece, a year after her disappearance.
Konstantin Ignatov, Ruja’s brother and also a co-founder, was arrested in Los Angeles in 2019, pleaded guilty to Onecoin-related charges, and sought witness protection in the United States. The Cryptoqueen’s former boyfriend, Gilbert Armenta, was sentenced in February 2023 to five years in prison for laundering $300 million of Onecoin proceeds.
Do you think Onecoin’s other co-founder, Ruja Ignatova, will be brought to justice? Tell us in the comments section below.