Karl Greenwood, one of the founders of the OneCoin pyramid scheme, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in the project by a federal court in the Southern District of New York, according to a statement from the attorney's office on Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos also ordered Greenwood to forfeit $300 million, the approximate amount he pocketed from the scheme.
OneCoin began in Bulgaria in 2014, branding itself as a cryptocurrency and telling investors that the token could be mined and had real value. In reality, it did not exist on the blockchain and was a pyramid scheme in which investors were rewarded for bringing in new participants. OneCoin is estimated to have defrauded more than $4 billion from at least 3.5 million victims.
Greenwood was OneCoin's "global master distributor and the leader of the MLM (multi-level marketing) network through which the fraudulent cryptocurrency was marketed and sold," the attorney's office said. This earned him 5% of OneCoin's monthly sales anywhere in the world.
He was arrested in Thailand in 2018 and extradited to the U.S., where he was detained awaiting trial. He pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to launder money last December.
Co-founder of the scheme Ruja Ignatova, known as the "CryptoQueen," remains at large and was named on the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Most Wanted list last year.
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