Prosecutors in China have charged four suspects said to be involved with operating an alleged $2 billion cryptocurrency pyramid scheme.
According to a news release issued by the Supreme People's Procuratorate issued Wednesday, a local prosecutor's office in Hunan province has charged the four individuals as part of a wider crackdown on "Weika Coin" – the Chinese name for OneCoin, a purported crypto investment scheme that has seen global law enforcement agencies launch investigations and issue warnings and fines.
The report indicates that the legal process launched in September 2017 and has been conducted in three phases that have seen 98 people prosecuted for allegedly deceiving investors across over 20 provinces in China. A number of those have already been sentenced with up to four years in prison and/or fines ranging from 10,000–5 million yuan ($1,565–$783,000).
The prosecutor said that the scheme involved up to 2 million victims, while the amount of capital received from investors totals as much as 15 billion yuan (around $2 billion). Nearly 1.7 billion yuan ($266 million) has been recovered, the report states.
Promoters in Italy have been fined millions of euros, while authorities in India also moved to arrest suspects associated with OneCoin in April of last year and subsequently brought charges against Ignatova in July.
Most recently, the Bulgarian Special Prosecutor's Office has joined forces with counterparts in Europe and the Americas to investigate the scheme.
Chinese yuan image via Shutterstock
CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by Block.one; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk offers all employees above a certain salary threshold, including journalists, stock options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.