Top OneCoin Leader Pleads Not Guilty to DOJ for Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud
On May 28th, Konstantin Ignatov attended the preliminary hearing after the Department of Justice (DOJ) had charged him with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in March. Ignatov was charged for his role as the leader on the OneCoin Ponzi scheme. As expected, Ignatov pleaded not guilty.
Ignatov took over OneCoin in mid-2017 after his sister went into hiding. At the time, Ruja, Konstantin’s sister, was the known leader of the defunct fraudulent scheme. US authorities arrested him at the Los Angeles International Airport as he attempted to flee to Bulgaria in March.
The DOJ gathered evidence against Ignatov by working with foreign agencies, relying on information from OneCoin employees, subpoenas and warrants, and the analysis of bank account records. According to the DOJ, Ignatov is the current leader of OneCoin, which defrauded investors of a whopping $3.7 billion between 2014 and 2017.
During the preliminary hearing, Ignatov waived prosecution by indictment, meaning that prosecutors don’t have to get a charge from a grand jury. Many speculate that this decision is linked with the request for a continuance in April, although nobody knows what transpired Konstantin’s lawyers and the DOJ.
In April, the DOJ requested for a 30-day continuance which pushed the preliminary hearing date to May 28th. The prosecution was previously expected to file an indictment against Ignatov by April 26th. However, it emerged that the two parties (DOJ and Ignatov) were discussing a possible settlement of this case.
It is presumed that Ignatov would have waived prosecution by indictment in exchange for a guilty plea if the two parties had reached an agreement. This is because the effects of an indictment are more dreadful than taking a guilty plea. The not guilty plea is an indicator that the deal between Ignatov and the DOJ might be off, at least for now.