A lawyer representing investors defrauded by the notorious crypto scam Onecoin has urged the Bulgarian authorities to follow up on the case, claiming that the “biggest pyramid scheme in the world” is still operating out of the country. In a petition addressed to the Bulgarian constitutional mediator, Jonathan Levy accuses the authorities in Sofia of not having brought justice to the victims while apparently protecting “the most notorious criminal organization”.
Lawyer denounces Bulgarian authorities for “mischief” in Onecoin case
In the petition, Dr Levy points out that Onecoin has been recognized as a criminal enterprise by a number of countries, including the United States, Argentina and Germany, and classified as a pyramid scheme by law enforcement agencies such than the FBI. At the same time, the € 20 billion cryptocurrency scam would maintain multiple offices in the Bulgarian capital, use a number of corporate identities, continue its operations relentlessly and even hold a recruitment event last summer.
The Onecoin Crypto Ponzi Program was launched in 2014 and promoted by the offshore entities based in Bulgaria, Onecoin Ltd, registered in Dubai, and Onelife Network Ltd. Ruja Ignatova, also of German nationality and holder of a doctorate in European private law, and her partner Sebastian Greenwood from Sweden.
Ignatova disappeared in 2017 while her brother, Konstantin Ignatov, another Onecoin co-founder, was arrested in Los Angeles in 2019 and charged with financial crimes. He has since started to cooperate with law enforcement, testified about Onecoin’s association with organized crime in Bulgaria and elsewhere, pleaded guilty and requested witness protection. The regime has also been linked to the financing of terrorism. A number of people involved in the investigation and legal proceedings, including Ignatov, complained that they had received legal and other threats.
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 movable and immovable property, investments, cryptocurrency. , bank accounts and cash exceeding 12.5 billion euros. ($ 14.2 billion).
The lawyer criticizes the Bulgarian authorities for their limited actions in the case, recalling a single general warning about Onecoin issued in 2015 by the Financial Supervisory Commission, which subsequently ignored the case, as well as police raids on its Sofia offices in 2018, ordered by Ivan Geshev, who is now Bulgaria’s Attorney General and led at the request of Europol and the German police. Levy also states:
We are not aware of any arrests or confiscations of bank accounts, cash, cryptocurrency or property belonging to victims. While Bulgarian law enforcement officials have confiscated assets, they have not provided a public account or process for compensating victims.
According to the legal representative, Onecoin is the largest pyramid scheme in the history of the world, exceeding both the Madoff and Mavrodi pyramids. However, the complaint lodged largely concerns the Bulgarian operation of Onecoin, the extent of which remains unknown, and is “directed against the failure of Bulgarian law enforcement authorities to fulfill their duty mandated by the EU. towards victims of crime ”.
In the petition filed on behalf of clients from a number of countries, including the UK, US, Germany and Australia, Jonathan Levy points out that under section 47 of the Charter fundamental rights of the EU and similar provisions of Bulgarian law, Onecoin victims should have access to justice, which they have not yet received from Bulgaria. He accuses the country, an EU member state, claiming that it “protects and apparently allows OneCoin to retain its assets and continue to operate despite being the most notorious criminal organization in the 21st. century”.
Petitioner Urges Bulgaria to Account for Crypto Scam Assets, Including Ignatova’s € 12 Billion Bitcoin Stash
Levy demands that the Bulgarian ombudsperson investigate the conduct of various government institutions such as the prosecutor’s office, the ministries of justice and interior and the country’s financial intelligence directorate. He also insists on taking action to end “Onecoin’s open and public operation in Bulgaria which continues to victimize investors around the world”.
The lawyer also needs the help of the Bulgarian authorities to account for the Onecoin assets controlled from Bulgaria, which would consist, according to the document, of 230,000 bitcoins, cash, yachts, luxury cars, jewelry and precious metals, bank accounts, investments and real estate. , in order to determine whether they are still in the possession of Ignatova and her associates or whether they have been seized by Bulgaria.
Jonathan Levy is also insisting that the government in Sofia fulfill its obligations to compensate Onecoin victims under European law, such as Directive 2012/29 / EU of the European Parliament and Directive 2004/80 / EC of Council of the EU of April 29, 2004.
The petitioner also calls for “the establishment of a monetary reward of up to 1 billion euros” to encourage Onecoin associates to come forward and provide information about the crypto investment scam and its activities, “especially in relation to the 230,000 Bitcoins in the possession of Ruja Ignatova or her agents currently valued at over 12 billion euros. The money for this purpose, suggests Dr. Levy, should come up to to 10% of the recovered Onecoin assets.
Articles in the Bulgarian press confirm that the country’s Onecoin companies are still operational. According to an article in the business daily Capital, the One Network Services entity, formerly owned by Konstantin Ignatov and mother of Ruja, who runs Onecoin’s main office in central Sofia, is increasing its workforce – from 17 employees at the end of last year, up to 24 now. The publication reveals that the company reported revenues exceeding 2.9 million leva (over $ 1.7 million) for 2020 with a net profit of 75,000 leva (over $ 43,000).
The once-open crypto center on the ground floor of a building in Slaveykov Square is now closed, but according to Capital, Onecoin executives have released photographs of the meetings held there during their visits to Sofia. The active promoters of the cryptocurrency investment program which has been renamed Oneecosystem, are new faces, and few of them are in fact Bulgarians.
Do you expect authorities in Sofia to take action against Onecoin following the Bulgarian Ombudsman’s victim petition? Tell us in the comments section below.
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