(Bloomberg) -- Ruja Ignatova, the woman also known as ‘Cryptoqueen,’ is being added to the FBI’s list of Ten Most Wanted fugitives for allegedly defrauding investors in the OneCoin cryptocurrency company she founded.
The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York tweeted that there will be an 11 a.m. press conference Thursday to announce her addition to the list. Ignatova will be the only woman on the US list. Europol placed her on its most-wanted list last month, and offered a 5,000-euro ($5,200) award for information that leads to her capture.
Ignatova created OneCoin in 2014 in Bulgaria and led the organization until she disappeared in 2017. She has been charged by federal prosecutors in Manhattan with fraud and money laundering for what the government says was essentially a pyramid scheme. Her exploits became the subject of a successful BBC podcast “The Missing Cryptoqueen.”
Ignatova’s brother, Konstantin Ignatov, was arrested in March 2019 in Los Angeles. He later pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering charges and testified for prosecutors against Mark S. Scott, a lawyer who was found guilty of helping launder almost $400 million from OneCoin. Scott is challenging the verdict, saying there is evidence Konstantin Ignatov lied on the stand.
Another man, David Pike, pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy for bank fraud for helping Scott launder money. He was sentenced to two years probation in March.
OneCoin generated 3.4 billion euros ($3.78 billion) in revenue from the fourth quarter of 2014 to the third quarter of 2016, but had no real value and couldn’t be used to buy anything, according to prosecutors. It operated as a multilevel marketing network that paid commissions to its more than 3 million members worldwide for recruiting others to buy OneCoin packages, prosecutors said.
The case is US v Scott, 17-cr-630, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
(Updates with background on case)
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