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After hiding for five years, OneCoin founder Ruja Ignatova reappears - Decrypt

OneCoin founder Dr. Ruja Ignatova has resurfaced more than five years after vanishing from the public eye, linked to a London property in a filing submitted to the British government this month.

The filling lists Ignatova as a so-called beneficial owner of Abbots House Penthouse Limited, a Guernsey-based company that had purchased a multimillion-dollar penthouse in the London suburb of Kensington.

The property was recently put up for sale, as per the New York Post, for a price of $15.5 million, which was later reduced to around $13.6 million, and the listing has since been taken down. Ignatova was reportedly forced to step forward as its owner due to rules involving overseas companies that took effect in the UK last year. The disclosure states that Ignatova has owned the penthouse through Abbots House Penthouse Limited since May 2016.

However, a separate report from the BBC says the recent listing can be traced back to prosecutors in the German city of Bielefeld rather than UK law officials or herself.

The suggestion that Ignatova reemerged from hiding comes years after she vanished while ducking fraud charges. When she launched OneCoin in 2014, it was billed as a “Bitcoin killer” to investors, but the project was later revealed to be a Ponzi scheme. A network for the token was never even built, a BBC Sounds Podcast titled “The Missing Cryptoqueen” found. 

The OneCoin founder is on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted list and one of Europe’s most high-profile fugitives, facing allegations of conning investors out of as much as $5 billion in 2017. The FBI is currently offering a $100,000 reward for information that leads to her arrest.

While Ignatova hasn’t been seen since she fled Bulgaria—where OneCoin was based—on a plane to Athens, Greece, in 2017, multiple people close to the “Cryptoqueen” have faced trouble for their role in facilitating the alleged scheme.

Last month, OneCoin co-founder Karl Sebastion Greenwood pled guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges brought against him by prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. And charges against a former Luxembourg intelligence official who described his role at OneCoin as a “crisis manager” were also unsealed.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said OneCoin was “marketed and sold a fraudulent cryptocurrency” through a multi-level-marketing scheme to gain traction across the globe. He also claimed that Greenwood and Ignatova “conceived of and built the OneCoin business fully intending to use it to defraud investors.”

Williams made reference to emails where OneCoin investors were called “idiots” by Greenwood for believing in the project. Williams also cited a discussion where Ignatova shared her thoughts on an “exit strategy” for OneCoin. The first idea floated by Ignatova was to “take the money and run and blame someone else for this.”

In 2019, OneCoin’s lawyer Mark Scott was found guilty of conspiracy to commit money laundering and bank fraud by a U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Ignatova’s brother, Konstantin Ignatov, has also pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering charges.

Associates of Ignatova have faced charges in Germany that involve multiple financial crimes as well. There, prosecutors alleged customers of OneCoin were deceived into thinking token prices were determined by market mechanisms when the process was entirely fake, including software that simulated OneCoin being mined.

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