UK police drop inquiry into $4bn OneCoin swindle
27 Dec 2019

The police have dropped an investigation into the swindling of millions of pounds from UK investors by OneCoin, a pyramid fraud cryptocurrency.

The City of London police confirmed to The Times that its investigation into OneCoin, whose founders are thought to have stolen £4 billion in total and whose operations were partly run from London, has been concluded with no arrests or prosecutions. The move has attracted criticism from UK white collar crime lawyers, who accused the City of London police of “failing to investigate adequately, or at all”.

It has also emerged that four years ago the police withdrew an order put in place to prevent OneCoin funds leaving the UK, allowing money to flow out of the country to Bulgaria, where the cryptocurrency’s founder, Ruja Ignatova, was based. Ms Ignatova, 39, has since disappeared and is wanted by the FBI in the US.

In ceasing their investigation the force said: “It was the decision of the City of London police that there was insufficient evidence to support criminal proceedings against individuals based in the UK.”

The decision to end the UK investigation came after Mark Scott, a US commercial lawyer, was convicted at the end of last month in New York of conspiracy to commit money laundering and bank fraud in relation to the OneCoin scheme.

US prosecutors described OneCoin as a “multibillion-dollar cryptocurrency company based completely on lies and deceit” and a “pyramid scheme based on smoke and mirrors more than zeroes and ones”.

The City of London force said that its investigators “share the same belief as foreign law enforcement partners”.

By Jonathan Ames and Mark Bridge, The Times, 24 December 2019

Read more at The Times

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