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OneCoin Lawyer’s Appeal Denied: Scott Maintains he was Unaware of Ponzi Scheme While Pocketing $50 Million

Published September 19, 2023 10:58 AM
Teuta Franjkovic
Published September 19, 2023 10:58 AM

Key Takeaways

  • Attorney Mark Scott was convicted for laundering $400 million linked to the OneCoin scam in 2019.
  • Scott claimed he was unaware of OneCoin’s fraudulent nature while establishing the fund used for OneCoin transactions.
  • Despite a government witness admitting to conspiring in the OneCoin fraud, Judge rejected Scott’s plea for a retrial.
  • Scott’s legal team is preparing to challenge this decision.
  • Lawyers argue that the government’s key witness provided false testimony.

OneCoin, which debuted in 2014, promoted itself as a Bitcoin-competing virtual money. The so-called cryptocurrency was ultimately revealed to be a dishonest pyramid scheme that lured new participants in with false expectations of future success.

Connection Between Mark Scott and the OneCoin Scheme

A 54-year-old lawyer named Mark Scott was found guilty in November 2019 of laundering an astounding $400 million connected to the OneCoin scam.

Scott amassed over $50 million from a dishonest fund, according to the evidence gathered by the prosecution, to handle transactions resulting from the OneCoin business.

Scott disputed the decision, claiming he was unaware of the OneCoin scam when he established the fund. His defense relied heavily on the testimony of Konstantin Ignatov, the brother of OneCoin founder Ruja Ignatova, who later admitted to collaborating in the OneCoin scheme.

Despite the witness’s lying, US District Judge Edgardo Ramos rejected the request for a new trial during a hearing  on September 18. Ignatov’s testimony led Judge Ramos to express doubt that “an innocent person may have been convicted” in this case.

As a result, Scott’s attorneys are preparing to appeal this ruling, highlighting the fact that the government’s key witness gave false testimony.

Scott’s attorney, Arlo Devlin-Brown, declared that his client would challenge Ramos’ decision. The attorney stated via email: “We are disappointed that the court did not award a new trial given the indisputable evidence that the Government’s single cooperating witness perjured himself.

Extravagant Living Funded Through Deceptive Methods

The prosecution emphasized Scott’s lavish use of the money from OneCoin. His acquisitions included a number of lavish items:

  • Multiple-million dollar homes
  • Premium timepieces
  • Sporty automobiles
  • A magnificent 17-meter yacht included

Prosecutors argue that OneCoin operated as a multi-level marketing network, not a legitimate cryptocurrency. This compensated individuals worldwide for recruiting new customers to buy OneCoin bundles.

In 2017, Ignatova vanished when OneCoin came under suspicion. OneCoin was situated in Sofia, Bulgaria, and was co-founded by her and Karl Sebastian Greenwood, who served as the project’s primary advocate. Greenwood entered a guilty plea in the case, and Ramos sentenced him to 20 years in prison last week.

Greenwood was detained at his home on the Thai island of Koh Samui in July 2018 and extradited to the US in October to face charges of fraud and money laundering. Since his arrest in July 2018, Greenwood has been held in custody, according to  the DOJ.

In addition, Greenwood was told to give up $300 million, which is the same amount he earned through the OneCoin fraud.

Arrest Warrant for Ignatova

On the other side, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued a federal arrest warrant for Ruja Ignatova after charging her with OneCoin-related fraud and money laundering offenses.

Ignatova took a commercial trip on October 25, 2017, from Sofia, Bulgaria, to Athens, Greece, and hasn’t been seen in the media since. In June 2022, Ignatova was added to the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted List . A $100,000 reward is being offered by the FBI for information that results in Ignatova’s capture.

The OneCoin case serves as a cautionary tale in the evolving realm of digital currency. Despite truthfulness challenges during the trial, the court’s verdict underscores the rigorous legal scrutiny that fraudulent schemes will face.

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