A lawyer representing investors defrauded by the notorious crypto scam Onecoin has urged authorities in Bulgaria to act on the case, claiming that the “world’s largest pyramid scheme” is still operating from the country. In a petition with the Bulgarian Constitutional Ombudsman, Jonathan Levy accuses officials in Sofia of failing to provide justice to the victims while seemingly protecting “the most notorious criminal organization.”
Lawyer Slams Bulgarian Authorities for ‘Misfeasance’ in Onecoin Case
Dr. Levy explains that Onecoin is a criminal enterprise and has been identified by multiple countries such as Argentina, the United States and Germany. The FBI also classified Onecoin as a pyramid-schema. At the same time, the €20 billion cryptocurrency scam allegedly maintains several offices in the Bulgarian capital, uses a number of corporate identities, continues its operations unabated, and has even held a recruitment event this past summer.
Onecoin is a crypto Ponzi that was first launched by Onecoin Ltd in Bulgaria, which is registered in Dubai. Onecoin Ltd in Belize, which is incorporated in Belize, promoted the scheme. Both were founded by the pyramid’s mastermind, Bulgaria-born ‘Crypto Queen’ Dr. Ruja Ignatova, also a German national holding a PhD in European private law, and her partner Sebastian Greenwood from Sweden.
Ignatova vanished in 2017, while Konstantin Ignatov (another Onecoin founder) was detained in Los Angeles and accused of financial crimes. He has since started cooperating with law enforcement, testified about Onecoin’s association with organized crime in Bulgaria and elsewhere, pleaded guilty, and sought witness protection. It was also linked to terrorist funding. Ignatov was one of the people affected by the legal proceeding and investigation. He complained about being threatened with legal or other legal action.
The document submitted by Jonathan Levy lists a number of other key figures in the scam and claims that “the Ignatovs, Onecoin and their proxies in Bulgaria and Dubai currently control moveable and immoveable property, investments, cryptocurrency, bank accounts and cash exceeding €12.5 billion” ($14.2 billion).
The lawyer slams Bulgarian authorities for their limited actions on the case, recalling a single general warning about Onecoin issued in 2015 by the Financial Supervision Commission, which later ignored the matter, as well as police raids on its offices in Sofia in 2018, ordered by Ivan Geshev who now serves as Bulgaria’s Prosecutor General and conducted on request from Europol and the German police. Levy states also:
There have been no arrests, confiscations of assets, money, crypto, or bank accounts of victims. If assets were confiscated by the Bulgarian authorities, they haven’t provided compensation or a public accounting.
Onecoin, according to its legal representative is larger than both Madoff and Mavrodi pyramids. However, the filed complaint largely concerns itself with Onecoin’s Bulgarian operation, the full extent of which remains unknown, and is “directed at the misfeasance by Bulgarian law enforcement in regard to their EU mandated duty to victims of crime.”
Jonathan Levy filed a petition in support of clients from several countries. He highlighted that Onecoin victims under Article 47 of EU Charter of Fundamental Rights as well as similar provisions in Bulgarian Law, need to be allowed access to justice. This has not been done from Bulgaria yet. He accuses the country, an EU member state, saying it “seemingly protects and enables OneCoin to retain its assets and continue to operate despite being the most notorious criminal organization of the 21st Century.”
Petitioner Urges Bulgaria to Account for Crypto Scam’s Assets, Including Ignatova’s €12 Billion Bitcoin Stash
Levy requests that the Bulgarian Ombudsman investigate the conduct of various government institutions such as the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Ministries of Justice and Interior, and the country’s Financial Intelligence Directorate. He also insists on taking steps to terminate “Onecoin’s open and public operation in Bulgaria that continues to victimize investors worldwide.”
Further, the lawyer requests assistance from the Bulgarian authorities in accounting for Onecoin assets that were allegedly controlled from Bulgaria. These include 230,000 bitcoins and cash as well as luxury vehicles, jewels and precious metals.
Jonathan Levy insists on the obligation of Sofia’s government to compensate Onecoin victims in accordance with European law, such as Directive 2002/29/EU and Directive 2004/80/EC. These laws were adopted by the EU Council.
The petitioner also calls for the “establishment of a monetary reward of up to €1 billion” to encourage associates of Onecoin to step forward and provide information about the crypto investment scam and its activities, “especially in regard to the 230,000 Bitcoins in the possession of Ruja Ignatova or her proxies currently valued at over €12 billion.” The money for that purpose, Dr. Levy suggests, should come from up to 10% of recovered Onecoin assets.
The Bulgarian press reports that Onecoin-related companies are still in operation. According to an article by the business daily Capital, the One Network Services entity, formerly owned by Konstantin Ignatov and Ruja’s mother, which runs Onecoin’s main office in central Sofia, is actually expanding its workforce – from 17 employees at the end of last year, to 24 now. This publication shows that revenues have exceeded 2.9million leva, or more than $1.7million for 2020. The firm also reported a net profit in excess of 75,000 leva (43,000).
Capital reported that the former open-air crypto center, located at ground floor in a building near Slaveykov Square is now closed. However, Onecoin executives have posted photographs from meetings they attended during their trips to Sofia. Oneecosystem is a new brand that represents the active supporter of cryptocurrency investments. However, not all of these promoters are from Bulgaria.
Do you expect authorities in Sofia to take action against Onecoin following the victims’ petition of the Bulgarian Ombudsman? Please leave your comments below.
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