It’s been two years since we’ve heard anything out of Bielefeld’s Public Prosecutor’s Office regarding OneCoin.
Now, three suspects have been indicted and will appear at Munster District Court.
As reported by WirtschaftsWoche;
the investigators accuse two people of operating payment services without permission and of having transferred more than 300 million euros from investors to the Cayman Islands.
A third accused allegedly made himself a criminal offense in intentional money laundering and also helped to transfer money abroad.
He accepted that the crypto money was at the center of commercial fraud.
On the surface it appears the Bielefeld indictments might be related to Mark Scott’s OneCoin money laundering prosecution in the US.
One of the Bielefeld defendants is being represented by Stephan Schulenberg, of the law firms Schulenberg and Schenk and SBS Legal.
Schulenberg and Schenk gained notoriety after they rubber-stamped OneCoin’s Ponzi scheme in 2015. Schulenberg has represented OneCoin in Germany and is believed to have acted as Ruja Ignatova’s personal lawyer.
Speaking in defense of his clients, Schulenberg told WirtschaftsWoche ‘his client did not know that a permit was necessary’.
Neither her lawyer at the time nor her tax advisor would have made her aware of this.
The other client acted in good faith, he was “to be regarded as unpunished”.
Given the trio worked to launder 300 million euros, these defenses would likely be laughed out of a US court. Whether a German court swallows the defenses remains to be seen.
Michael Heuchemer, the lawyer for the third accused, said that he would apply for the main proceedings not to be opened due to insufficient suspicion.
The corresponding legal situation is complex and prone to errors, which should not be at the expense of his client.
As noted by WirtschaftsWoche, bringing OneCoin scammers to justice in Germany has proved difficult.
The Bielefeld public prosecutor’s office had investigated nine suspects in the course of several years and also examined allegations of fraud.
She has now dropped four proceedings, but is continuing to pursue two more.
The Bielefeld prosecutor’s initial investigation led to a raid on OneCoin’s Bulgarian offices. The investigation has since expanded to include OneCoin founder Ruja Ignatova as a key suspect.
Stephan Schulenberg has previously managed to get two German OneCoin Ponzi scammers acquitted.
The court accepted that the scammers acted in good faith, because they relied on the legal opinion prepared by Schulenberg and Schenk five years earlier.
If that sounds bizarre it’s because it is. Worse still, based on his representations about his current clients, it seems Schulenberg is gearing up to run the same playbook again.
Bit of a coincidence all these OneCoin scammers in Germany wind up with the same attorney. Makes you wonder who’s paying the legal bills.
Update 18th September 2021 – The trial of Frank Ricketts, Manon Hubenthal and Martin Breidenbach has begun.