The younger brother of missing ‘Cryptoqueen’ Dr Ruja Ignatova has agreed to inform on his criminal cohorts after admitting to his part in the OneCoin multi-billion dollar cryptofraud.
Konstantin Ignatov, appearing at New York Southern District Court this week, pleaded guilty to a string of charges related to fraud. If found guilty, the 33-year-old could face up to 90 years’ imprisonment for his involvement with OneCoin.
However, in a last-minute twist to his case, it was revealed that Ignatov agreed to a plea bargain that could spare him jail but force him into hiding if he submits to revealing the identities and whereabouts of the organisation’s co-conspirators – including his missing 38-year-old sister and members of the Bulgarian Mafia.
Prosecutors in the case against the activities of OneCoin scammers believe more than $5bn was swindled out of unsuspecting investors. Remarkably, OneCoin is still operating, and the company denies any criminal activity.
Dr Ignatova’s younger brother was apprehended as he attempted to board a flight at Los Angeles International Airport eight months ago. He is understood to have signed a plea bargain last month, providing vital information to detectives attempting to track down the rest of the gang.
Despite pleading guilty to money laundering, wire fraud, and two counts of bank fraud, the deal means he will not face further charges in respect of OneCoin.
He is likely to be granted witness protection and possibly be given a new identity if he avoids a jail term, with the plea document stating his compliance may “reveal activities of individuals who might use violence” against him or his family.
While awaiting sentencing, Ignatov has also been instrumental in another case involving the OneCoin fraud by testifying in the trial of US lawyer Mark Scott.
Scott has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to launder money as well as bank fraud. He is suspected to have routed $400m out of the US.
Ignatov has also broken his silence over his sister’s disappearance during the trial, saying the mastermind behind OneCoin had last been seen at her lavish home in Sofia.
He revealed that she confided in him her belief that someone within their inner circle was about to tip off the FBI about her activities. As well as insisting he had not communicated with his Oxford-educated sister since October 2017, Ignatov also claimed she had asked him to purchase flight tickets to Athens and Vienna on her behalf.
The trial is expected to conclude next week.
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