Author: Syedur Rahman
25 September 2023
2 min read
Syed Rahman details the latest legal developments regarding the missing Crypto Queen, Ruja Ignatova.
A UK group action claim is being brought against the founder of OneCoin, Ruja Ignatova, among others. The claim follows one of the largest Ponzi schemes ever, which defrauded an estimated $4 billion from millions of investors worldwide.
The claim is currently being headed by investor and author Jennifer McAdam who, along with her legal team, is in the process of identifying investors in the scheme who fell victim to the scam. The group action is operating on an opt-in basis and is being funded by a third-party litigation funder who will receive a share of the funds recovered – if any are recovered.
OneCoin was originally launched in 2014 and was advertised as a rival to Bitcoin. With the benefit of hindsight, it is now clear that this coin was, in fact, never a legitimate coin. The whole operation was an elaborate Ponzi scheme, set up to defraud millions of investors globally. It was headed by Ignatova, who has since been dubbed the Crypto Queen and remains on the FBI Top 10 Most Wanted list.
Those who invested in the scheme ranged from sophisticated investors to lay investors. Given the passage of time since Ignatova’s disappearance in 2017, those bringing the legal action will face unique challenges in not only tracing the misappropriated funds but also overcoming the legal hurdles in their path.
The claim follows Ignatova’s business partner, Karl Greenwood, being sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment in 2019 and being ordered to forfeit $300 million after he pleaded guilty to wire fraud and conspiracy charges following his arrest in Thailand.
But the whereabouts of the Bulgarian national Ignatova is not currently known. Whilst there were rumours that she had died, the FBI have stated that she is believed to have travelled through Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Tracking down Ignatova is just one challenge faced by the legal team working on this group action claim. However much good a High Court order in the UK can be, it will be of little use if one is not able to locate the fraud’s perpetrator and the funds they may possess.
With former boyfriends and legal representatives linked to Ignatova also having been prosecuted, it is clear that she has left a trail of legal action in her wake. This group action is yet just another example of the slew of legal issues that have followed this Ponzi scheme and its disastrous consequences.
Syedur Rahman is known for his in-depth experience of serious fraud, white-collar crime and serious crime cases, as well as his expertise in worldwide asset tracing and recovery, international arbitration, civil recovery, cryptocurrency and high-stakes commercial disputes.