Mark Scott’s OneCoin trial is taking place over the next few weeks.
The highlight of proceedings so far has been Ruja Ignatova’s brother, Konstantin Ignatov, trotted out as a cooperating witness.
Ignatov’s testimony, yesterday in particular, has provided us with a few interesting bombshells.
As is likely to be the case throughout Mark Scott’s criminal trial proceedings, our coverage relies heavily on Inner City Press reporting. Matthew Russel Lee is attending the trial in person and provides live updates on Inner City Press’ Twitter account.
Perhaps the biggest bombshell to come out of Konstantin’s testimony so far, other than his cooperation with the DOJ, is the revelation he has plead guilty.
Earlier this year Konstantin was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which he pleaded not guilty to in May.
As revealed by the DOJ’s questioning of Konstantin, that plea has since been changed to guilty.
Accompanying that change of plea is a “cooperation agreement”, the details of which have yet to be made public.
Konstantin stated he started cooperating with the government “months after” his arrest.
In no particular order, here are the rest of the bombshells dropped during Konstantin’s testimony.
Konstantin (and presumably other OneCoin insiders) claims he lived in fear of OneCoin investors.
Promises weren’t kept. I started getting death threats on the phone.
Recounts Ignatov of one particular incident,
Someone put a gun in my back and I was put in a mini van. I was taken to suburbs of Sophia.
Then there was the time I was confronted by members of the Hell’s Angels.
Konstantin attributes these incidents to investor dissatisfaction. The Ponzi side of OneCoin collapsed in January 2017.
Konstantin also claims he “heard that bribes were paid in Asia”. This has been a long-running theme in OneCoin, and part of why the scam proliferated such that it did globally.
When questioned on why he lied to US customs authorities who detained him, Konstantin, for what I believe is the first time publicly, acknowledged that OneCoin was a fraudulent scheme.
I knew I was working for a fraud scheme and I didn’t want to get caught.
After that initial brush with the law, Konstantin recalls disposing of his laptop.
I put it in a trash back and threw it out in Las Vegas. But when I went to LAX to fly out, I got arrested by the FBI.
I saw things were getting serious. I was afraid of going to jail.
After Ruja Ignatova disappeared, she gifted Konstantin with a house. That coincided with Konstantin’s taking over as “a leader in OneCoin”.
Moving onto the money side of things, Konstantin revealed money handed over by investors was stashed in a safe on the third floor of OneCoin’s Sofia office.
Ruja spent millions of investor funds on frequent shopping trips. According to Konstantin, one jewellery item purchased by Ruja cost over $1 million. Investor funds were also spent on a house in Frankfurt for Ruja’s husband.
Ruja herself had mansions in Bulgaria and Dubai. For cars she got around in a Porshe and armoured Lexus.
She was always afraid someone would kidnap her.
Ignatova also owned a yacht, which was frequently used to host lavish parties.
All in all Konstantin claims Ruja personally appropriated $500 million of OneCoin investor funds.
Sebastian Greenwood, Ruja’s second in command, “stole over $100 million”. Ruja apparently wasn’t happy about this, resulting in Greenwood returning “a lot of the money”.
Amr Abdul Aziz also stole “over 100 million euros” through OneCoin. He’s since spent a good portion of that on race horses.
None of these thefts were reported to policy, because everyone involved knew “the money came from criminal activity”.
Moving onto money laundering, Konstantin claimed shell companies set up to launder OneCoin funds were “mostly set up” by Irina Dilkinska.
Dilkinska, along with those she worked with, were reportedly referred to as “monkeys” by Konstantin and other OneCoin insiders.
After Ruja disappeared, Dilkinska began disassociating herself with OneCoin. Dilkinska is also believed to have misappropriated OneCoin investor funds.
Ruja was having or trying to have an affair with Gilbert Armenta.
Konstantin identified Arments as Ruja’s boyfriend. She purportedly introduced him to to Konsantin as an “international money launderer”.
Prior to Mark Scott’s first visit to OneCoin’s Sofia office, Ruja sent everyone home – including Konstantin.
This, according to Konstantin, was “not common”.
Scott had flown out to Bulgaria because he felt “unsafe” discussing OneCoin related business with Ruja over Skype.
Another key figure in OneCoin’s money laundering operations, as told by Konstantin, is Frank Schneider.
Part of those operations were conducted through the Bank of Ireland, whose employees, after initially agreeing to testify, have backflipped and now outright refused to appear before the court (in any capacity).
Frank Schneider credited with warning Ruja of the FBI investigation into OneCoin.
Schneider is believed to have learnt of the FBI investigation after a wiretap on Armenta revealed he was working with the FBI.
Ruja purportedly had ordered the wiretap after she became suspicious Armenta wouldn’t dump his wife for her.
This appears to be a significant source of frustration for Ruja. In one recorded conversation played for the court, Ruja told Armenta;
I never knew you were such a spineless asshole… I don’t deserve this, and she doesn’t either. It’s not cool.
Upon learning of the Armenta’s cooperation with the FBI, Konstantin recalled
As her brother, I wanted to know how she was, why she was so worried.
I went to her house and witnessed her having more or less a nervous breakdown.
She told me Armenta was giving her up to the FBI.
Shortly after she learned of Armenta’s cooperation with the FBI;
Ruja said she was very tired. She asked me to set up meetings with each of the senior OneCoin people, at her house.
She met with them one by one. I sat in the kitchen.
hen Ruja asked me to get her plane tickets to Vienna then Athens. She went to Athens and the security guard with her told me she was met by some people, who spoke Russian.
Before Ruja departed her Bulgarian residence, she is believed to have set about “burning documents”.
Schnieder, along with Gilbert Armenta, Amr Aziz and Alex Ortega, are identified as key figures in OneCoin’s money laundering operations.
Having kicked off from this week, Mark Scott’s trial is expected to take two to three weeks.
Scott’s attorneys have thus far presented him as “one of the people Ruja lied to”.