Mark Scott, the lawyer behind Ruja Ignatova’s OneCoin, was found guilty of laundering $400 million for the Ponzi scheme on Thursday.
OneCoin has been called a “pyramid scheme” and “multi-level marketing” ploy by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York, who have aggressively pressed charges against the international operation they say generated in excess of €3.5 billion ($3.7 billion) in sales revenue. The verdict adds another name to the growing list of convicted OneCoin officials.
Scott was convicted of washing a sizable portion of that haul. He was found guilty Thursday with laundering $400 million starting in 2016. He now faces potentially up to 50 years in prison, as well as disbarment.
The money flowed through an elaborate network of fraudulent private equity investment funds and between international tax havens, from the British Virgin Islands to Ireland, to the Cayman Islands, that obfuscated their source, according to the press release.
In the process, Scott skimmed off $50 million for himself.
“He lined his pockets with over $50 million of the money stolen from victims of the OneCoin scheme,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement. “Scott, who boasted of earning ‘50 by 50’ now faces 50 years in prison for his crimes.”
Scott’s conviction in the Southern District of New York comes just over a year after his arrest, and on the heels of last week’s news that Konstantin Ignatov, another high-ranking OneCoin official and Ruja Ignatova’s brother, had reached a plea deal with prosecutors.
Regulators and investigators around the world have derided OneCoin as a blatant scam, with warnings and prosecutions coming out of Africa, Europe, Asia and North America. Chinese authorities alone prosecuted at least 98 OneCoin individuals since September 2017.
OneCoin still operates out of its founder Ruja Ignatova’s home country Bulgaria.
The Department of Justice has issued an arrest warrant for Ruja Ignatova. The OneCoin founder has not been seen since her disappearance in 2017.
Scott’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 21, 2020.
The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.