(Bloomberg) -- Some of the first people in Europe to face criminal allegations over their role in a multibillion-dollar international fraud run by founder of cryptocurrency OneCoin appeared in a German court on Tuesday.
Three people, including a Munich lawyer who worked for cryptoqueen Ruja Ignatova, are accused of money laundering, fraud and banking crime allegations in one of the industries mist infamous scams. The attorney allegedly transferred €20 million ($19.7 million) for Ignatova to buy two London apartments €75 million euros to the Cayman Islands. Ignatova is on the run and wanted bu authorities in the US and Europe.
A husband and wife are also charged with handling €320 million in payments from OneCoin customers within a single year.
OneCoin was a scam, prosecutors said in the German court reading the indictment. Ignatova defrauded her customers by falsely claiming OneCoin was a cryptocurrency and that its value was determined by market mechanisms they could monitor. At one point, they were told 50,000 new OneCoins were mined per minute, according to the indictment.
“In reality, the ever-growing value was a fake and the mining process was only simulated by the software,” prosecutors said in court.
The subject of a successful BBC podcast ‘The Missing Cryptoqueen’, Ignatova created OneCoin in 2014 in Sofia, Bulgaria, and headed the organization until she vanished from the public eye in October 2017.
Her brother Konstantin Ignatov took over. He was arrested in the U.S. in 2019 and later pleaded guilty. Ruja Ignatova is being investigated in Germany and has been charged in the U.S. with wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering.
OneCoin claimed to have more than 3 million members worldwide. Generating €3.4 billion euros in revenue from the fourth quarter of 2014 to the third quarter of 2016, it operated as a multilevel market network that paid commission to members worldwide for recruiting others, prosecutors told a US court in 2019.
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