FBI Wanted CryptoQueen a Bitcoin Billionaire
Cryptocurrency scammer’s £13.5m London penthouse revealed – BBC News
With the turmoil in the crypto market, files detected by the BBC suggest that a Bitcoin investor may also have lost his fortune – the “lost cryptoqueen”, Dr Ruja Ignatova.
The fraudster disappeared in 2017 as his cryptocurrency OneCoin was on the rise – attracting billions of investors. Cases of fraud and money laundering in the US have led to him becoming one of the 10 most wanted FBI refugees.
An Oxford-educated businessman has told investors he has created a “Bitcoin killer”, but the files suggest he secretly collected billions of rivals before he disappeared.
Details began to emerge in 2021 in leaked documents from Dubai courts, posted online by a lawyer who accused Dr. Ruja – as he is known – “the most successful criminal in history”.
We were able to independently verify some – but not all – of the information in Dubai files.
At the very least, the leak suggests that Dubai was Dr Ruja’s most important financial route, something the FBI mentioned in naming the United Arab Emirates as one of the five countries it knew to contact.
“You have billions of dollars at stake here,” said Dr. Jonathan Levy, a lawyer who first uploaded files online, and relied on information from OneCoin victims’ compensation claim.
The lawsuit was filed in the British Indian Ocean Territory Supreme Court, which was selected because it hosted a web site allegedly used by OneCoin.
Dr. Levy received thousands of letters, mostly in Arabic, from a foreigner who said that he thought it was wrong for people to be “unjustly advised” in Dubai.
The most interesting claim made in Dr. Levy’s legal case is that a major Bitcoin deal was made with the Emirati king, Sheikh Saoud bin Faisal Al Qassimi, the son of a wealthy business tycoon.
Dr Ruja presented three checks to Sheikh Saoud of Mashreq Bank, valued at 210m Emirati dirham, approximately 50 million euros.
Prior to this agreement, Mashreq Bank of Dubai had begun closing Dr Ruja’s accounts due to financial fraud, so checks could not be issued.
In 2020, Dubai authorities suspended Dr. Ruja’s finances, despite the fact that more than a year earlier the US Department of Justice had published a lawsuit against him, calling OneCoin a “fake cryptocurrency”.
Months before the verdict, former Dr Ruja fund manager Mark Scott was also found guilty in New York of embezzling $ 400m from OneCoin.
Asked by the BBC about the decision, the Dubai Public Prosecutor did not respond.
According to Dubai Court of Appeal records, on April 28, 2022, Sheikh Saoud demanded that Dr. Ruja’s money be given to him – suggesting that an agreement was reached between the two. Dr Ruja himself has been appointed respondent, although he has not been seen in public for nearly five years.
Dr. Ruja and Sheikh
Little is known about Sheikh Saoud, but sources tell us that this physiotherapist is rarely seen in public.
He appears in a 2017 YouTube video of the Intergovernmental Collaborative Action Fund for Excellence (ICAFE) claiming to support educational programs, but after the release of files in Dubai, Sheikh Al Qassimi’s references as “Secretary-General” to ICAFE disappeared. its website.
The newly launched cryptocurrency also registers the check as its chairman. The Dubai files appear to show the close relationship between the Al Qassimi family and Dr. Ruja.
The files include the ambassador’s ID, which was given to Ruja as ICAFE’s “special adviser” – the organization Sheikh Saoud once participated in.
The organization appears to be affiliated with the United Nations, but a spokesman for the UN Secretary-General could not be reached for comment.
Founder Shariar Rahimi said ICAFE was “registered” with the UN, but failed to provide evidence. To Dr Ruja, he said any ICAFE documents given to him were from Sheikh Saoud.
Sometime after Dr Ruja’s Bitcoin deal, their relationship appears to be in a state of disarray – one letter between leaked files shows Sheikh Saoud sacking Dr. Ruja instead of being an ICAFE ambassador, before he later became embroiled in a legal dispute over his assets.
The case between the two was finalized in the Dubai Court of Appeal on June 28.
Asked about the allegations of Bitcoin, his relationship with Dr Ruja, and his role in ICAFE, Sheikh Saoud’s lawyer did not respond directly, but wrote: “All the information you have is baseless”.
Bitcoin transaction is said to have taken place using so-called cold-storage wallets, making it very difficult to determine if it has actually happened.
Bitcoin transactions can be tracked because all virtual transfers between wallets are recorded on a publicly viewed website. However, court documents do not specify which – or how many – wallets these bitcoins are stored in.
If he still has them, Dr. Ruja may find it difficult to move such a large amount of bitcoin.
Crypto author David Birch thinks Bitcoin’s reputation as an “unknown” currency is inaccurate because law enforcement agencies are increasingly using sophisticated algorithms to track coins as they flow into the system.
Getting rid of billion of dollars is much harder he said;
If Dr. Ruja still has 230,000 bitcoins, he could be one of the money.
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