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Onecoin ‘Crypto Queen’ Ruja Ignatova Listed Among Europe’s Most Wanted

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Onecoin ‘Crypto Queen’ Ruja Ignatova Listed Among Europe’s Most Wanted

Ruja Ignatova, mastermind of the notorious pyramid Onecoin, is now one of Europe’s most wanted fugitives. Also known as the “Crypto Queen,” she disappeared almost five years ago, after the Ponzi scheme she led collected billions of dollars from defrauded investors around the world.

Europol Seeks Information on Onecoin Inventor’s Whereabouts

The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, Europol, is now offering a reward of up to €5,000 ($5,200) for any information that could lead to the arrest of Ruja Ignatova, suspected of masterminding one of the largest scams in crypto history, Onecoin.

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The announcement describes Ignatova, a doctor of law, as the “driving force and intellectual inventor of the alleged cryptocurrency Onecoin.” She is suspected of inducing investors all over the world to put money into “this actually worthless ‘currency’,” Europol notes.

The agency also points out that the fraud-related losses to the Ponzi scheme that have been established so far are in the upper double-digit million range, while also acknowledging that the total damage caused on a global scale is likely to amount to several billion U.S. dollars. Europol explains:

The wanted person’s whereabouts have been unknown since 25 October 2017, and she has not appeared in public since this date, neither in connection with OneCoin nor otherwise.

Ignatova has been accused of “fraud, including that affecting the financial interests of the European Communities within the meaning of the Convention of 26 July 1995.” The promised reward is intended only for private individuals that provide crucial information about her location and not for officials prosecuting criminal offenses.

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The Crypto Queen has been added to Europe’s Most Wanted list on the initiative of the German law enforcement authorities. According to an announcement published by the police in the western German province of North Rhine-Westphalia, the €5,000 reward has been offered by the public prosecutor’s office in Bielefeld.

Onecoin was launched by Bulgarian-born German national Ruja Ignatova in 2014. The project’s cryptocurrency was advertised as the “Bitcoin killer” and promoted through Bulgaria-based offshore entities Onecoin Ltd., registered in Dubai, and the Belize-incorporated Onelife Network Ltd. Both were founded by Ignatova and her partner Sebastian Greenwood, who is now jailed in the U.S.

Ruja’s brother, Konstantin Ignatov, who is also a co-founder of Onecoin, was arrested in Los Angeles in 2019 and charged with committing financial crimes. He has since started cooperating with investigators working on the case, testified about Onecoin’s links to organized crime, pleaded guilty, and sought witness protection.

In November, a lawyer representing investors urged Bulgaria to act on the case, claiming the scam was still operating from the country. In a petition with the Bulgarian ombudsman, Jonathan Levy accused officials of failing to provide justice to the victims. He also alleged that the Ignatovs and Onecoin entities were still in control of property, crypto assets, and fiat funds exceeding €12.5 billion (over $13 billion).

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Do you think European law enforcement authorities will manage to locate Onecoin’s founder Ruja Ignatova? Tell us in the comments section below.

Lubomir Tassev

Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Eastern Europe who likes Hitchens’s quote: “Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.

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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.

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Russian Court Recognizes Cryptocurrency As Means Of Payment, Prosecutors See Precedent

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Russian Court Recognizes Cryptocurrency As Means Of Payment, Prosecutors See Precedent

The City Court of St. Petersburg has recognized a large amount of cryptocurrency handed over by the victim in an extortion case as a means of payment, Russian media reported. The prosecutor’s office in Russia’s second-largest city describes the ruling as a precedent.

Two Men Sentenced for Cryptocurrency Extortion in Russia

Two Russian citizens have been sentenced to nine and seven years in prison under strict regime for extorting 5 million rubles (almost $90,000) in cash and 55 million rubles (close to $1 million) in digital assets from another man.

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In the course of the trial, the St. Petersburg City Court has recognized the cryptocurrency as a means of payment, the crypto page of Russian business news portal RBC reported. Prosecutors consider the ruling a first, as the government in Moscow is yet to determine the legal status of bitcoin and the like.

Four years ago, one of the perpetrators, Pyotr Piron, introduced himself to the victim, G.A. Shemet, as an officer from the Federal Security Service (FSB). He threatened Shemet with criminal prosecution to extort money from him in the form of fiat and cryptocurrency, the article details.

As Shemet did not believe Piron was a security official and refused to give him the funds, the latter enlisted the services of an accomplice, Yevgeny Prigozhin, a former employee of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD).

The two told Shemet a criminal investigation will be launched against him for alleged illegal circulation of cryptocurrency. In the summer of 2018, they staged a fake arrest of the crypto owner who, under the threat of torture, handed over the fiat cash and his crypto stash.

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The city court’s initial decision did not take into account the misappropriated crypto. It stated in the verdict that cryptocurrency “is not a means of payment on the territory of the Russian Federation, therefore it cannot be recognized as an object of civil rights and a subject of a crime.”

Following an appeal, a cassation court declared that the cryptocurrency can nevertheless be considered a means of payment and returned the case to the court of first instance. Without changing the prison terms of the defendants, the city court issued a new verdict, adding the digital cash.

The development comes after last month, a district court in St. Petersburg allowed law enforcement officials to confiscate stolen cryptocurrency in another criminal case. Investigators had demanded the seizure of two dozen crypto wallets of a suspect, holding 1 billion rubles in ethereum (ETH).

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Arrest, Case, city court, Court, Crypto, Cryptocurrencies, Cryptocurrency, Decision, Extortion, legal status, means of payment, precedent, Regulation, Regulations, ruling, Russia, russian, Seizure, st petersburg, verdict

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Do you expect to see more cases involving cryptocurrency in Russian courts? Tell us in the comments section below.

Lubomir Tassev

Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Eastern Europe who likes Hitchens’s quote: “Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.

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Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons

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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.

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Alleged Hydra Administrator Dmitry Pavlov Reportedly Arrested In Russia

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Alleged Hydra Administrator Dmitry Pavlov Reportedly Arrested In Russia

A district court in Moscow has arrested a man whom local media reports identify as Dmitry Pavlov, alleged administrator of the recently shut down darknet market Hydra. Russian authorities believe he has been involved in drug-related crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Moscow Court Arrests Russian Believed to Be Hydra Administrator

Meshchansky District Court of Moscow has taken into custody a certain Dmitry Olegovich Pavlov accused of production, sale, and distribution of drugs under Russia’s Criminal Code, the “Moscow” City News Agency reported this week, quoting the court’s press service.

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Pavlov, who was arrested on Monday, April 11, has the same names as a 30-year-old Russian citizen and resident charged for similar offenses in relation to his alleged role as an administrator of the recently busted Hydra Market, one of the largest marketplaces on the darknet.

Earlier this month, German law enforcement seized Hydra’s server infrastructure in the country and took down the Russian-language platform’s website. The operation was carried with support from several U.S. agencies.

On April 5, the U.S. Department of Justice announced criminal charges against Dmitry Pavlov for conspiracy to distribute narcotics and conspiracy to commit money laundering. According to an indictment filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the Russian is also accused of administering and providing hosting services to Hydra.

The Russian business daily Kommersant quoted Pavlov telling the BBC on April 6 he had not been contacted by U.S. authorities and that he learned about the charges from the media. He also insisted his company had all the necessary licenses from Roskomnadzor, Russia’s communications watchdog, and was not administering any websites but only leasing servers as an intermediary.

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The United States has been alleging the Russian Federation’s involvement with crypto-related criminal organizations, including darknet markets (DNMs) and ransomware actors. In September, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctioned the Russia-based crypto broker Suex, believed to have received more than $20 million from DNMs like Hydra.

The department also imposed sanctions on Hydra itself — which had been active since at least 2015 and had around 17 million customers before it was shut down — and on a cryptocurrency exchange called Garantex, suspected of processing over $2.6 million in transactions from the darknet market platform.

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administrator, Arrest, Court, Crypto, Cryptocurrencies, Cryptocurrency, darknet, darknet market, detention, Hydra, Hydra Market, Marketplace, Moscow, operator, Russia, russian, Russian Federation

Do you expect other arrests in Russia in connection with the Hydra case? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Lubomir Tassev

Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Eastern Europe who likes Hitchens’s quote: “Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.

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Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.

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Wex Exchange Co-Owner Reportedly Detained In Russia

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Wex Exchange Co-Owner Reportedly Detained In Russia

Authorities in Russia have arrested a crypto entrepreneur associated with an unidentified cryptocurrency exchange who is suspected of embezzling funds and property. According to a media report, the detained person is one of the owners of Wex, successor of the infamous BTC-e exchange.

Owner of Wex Exchange Apprehended in Russia

Russian law enforcement agencies have detained a man accused of stealing financial and other assets from a cryptocurrency exchange, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) announced Tuesday. The suspect allegedly controlled large amounts in cryptocurrency and their movement between wallets.

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Investigators believe he withdrew some of the funds and appropriated them. The person was handcuffed at the hotel of a private airfield in Serpukhov city district of Moscow region with two suitcases holding 190 million Russian rubles in cash ($1.7 million), the press release detailed.

Officials from MVD, the Federal Security Service (FSB), and Russia’s financial watchdog, Rosfinmonitoring, carried out 29 searches at the residences of the arrested and his accomplices in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, and Yalta. Another 50 million rubles, $1 million, €70,000, computer equipment, hardware crypto wallets, luxury goods, and documents were seized.

While neither the detained person, nor the exchange were named by the authorities, the crypto news outlet Forklog quoted Indefibank CEO Sergey Mendeleev who claims the man is Aleksey Bilyuchenko, co-founder of Wex, once the largest crypto trading platform in Russia, which was launched in 2017 as a successor of BTC-e. The latter closed down earlier that year following the arrest in Greece of one of its alleged operators, Alexander Vinnik.

Bilyuchenko’s ownership of Wex was revealed by the BBC. Another Russian, Dmitry Vasiliev, was the official owner of the exchange. In September, the Polish press reported that Vasiliev had been arrested at the Warsaw airport on Aug. 11 and was awaiting extradition to Kazakhstan. In December, news came out that he had been released and had returned to Russia.

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In 2018, Wex was sold to Dmitry Khavchenko, a former fighter for the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic in Ukraine who then registered the operator of the exchange, the Singapore-based company World Exchange Services, under the name of his daughter, Daria. The exchange went bankrupt later that year. According to estimates by a group of Wex users, the total losses exceed $400 million.

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Arrest, BTC-e, co-owner, Crypto, crypto exchange, crypto exchanges, Cryptocurrencies, Cryptocurrency, detention, Exchange, Exchanges, operator, owner, partner, Russia, russian, Wex

Do you expect other arrests in relation to the crypto exchanges Wex and BTC-e? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Lubomir Tassev

Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Eastern Europe who likes Hitchens’s quote: “Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.

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Image Credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a direct offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or a recommendation or endorsement of any products, services, or companies. Bitcoin.com does not provide investment, tax, legal, or accounting advice. Neither the company nor the author is responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in this article.

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