According to reports, Gilbert Armenta, the ex-boyfriend of Ruja Ignatova (also known as the "Cryptoqueen"), will serve five years in prison for his role in the fake cryptocurrency scheme OneCoin.
Ignatova, a Bulgarian national, is one of the FBI's ten most-wanted suspects for her role in creating the notorious Ponzi scam. In 2017, she was reported missing in Greece, and there have been rumors that she may have been murdered.
Armenta's Sentence is Reduced
Bloomberg Law reports (1) Armenta was given a five-year federal prison sentence for money laundering for $300 million related to the OneCoin scam.
The conviction was handed down in the SDNY Courts in New York. The 59-year-old was formerly involved with Ruja Ignatova, the con artist responsible for bilking investors out of over $4 billion.
Preliminary findings suggested Armenta may spend up to seven years in prison. However, due to his guilty plea for laundering money, blackmail, and wire fraud in 2018, his sentence was mitigated.
Matthew Lee, leader of the public interest group Inner City News clarified the defendant's legal situation. Armenta allegedly bought a private jet and other high-end goods with the $300 million he laundered.
After making a deal with the authorities to sell the plane, he broke his word and stole $5 million. Moreover, Ignatova's ex-boyfriend bribed Mexican businesses and gambled away money stolen from OneCoin users.
Multibillion-dollar Fraud Perpetrated by the "Cryptoqueen."
Over $4 billion was stolen from millions of people by the fake cryptocurrency pyramid scheme OneCoin, launched in Bulgaria in 2014. Its creators solicited funding for "educational packages" in digital asset dealing that cost anything from 100 to 118,000 euros.
In addition to the goods they bought, customers also earned OneCoin tokens that could be traded for cash on a specialized internal market. The investor's chosen package limited the number of coins that may be traded at the exchange each day.
As part of its regular maintenance schedule, the market was closed for two weeks in March 2016 and again in January 2017. Still, others connected with the organization kept taking money.
Several warnings have been issued by authorities in Bulgaria, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Latvia, and Croatia over the years, indicating that they believe OneCoin to be a fraudulent project.
As the BBC put (2) it, CEO and Founder Ruja Ignatova were last seen in Athens, Greece, in 2017. Numerous articles said she may have hidden on a yacht in the Mediterranean with much of the stolen money. Those twelve nautical miles off the coast are outside of the reach of any jurisdiction or authority, making this an ideal hiding spot for fugitives.
Reappearing in the City of London?
The reappearance on the London real estate market earlier this year of a penthouse purchased by Ignatova several years ago and valued at nearly $15 million provided (3) strong evidence that the wanted woman might still be alive.
Previously, prosecutors in Bielefeld had accused Ignatova's German attorney of money laundering for moving over $21 million to pay for purchasing the house and another flat in the complex.
The home in one of London's best neighborhoods, Kensington, had its asking price lowered to roughly $13 million before it was taken off the market.
Knight Frank, the real estate agency, would not confirm the sale but said it "complied fully with its legal and regulatory obligations at all times."