At least 13,000 Norwegians are among the victims of one of the biggest frauds in history. Now the Swedish co-founder of the hoax has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Karl Sebastian Greenwood (46), who helped launch the alleged cryptocurrency OneCoin in 2014, was also ordered to pay three billion kroner – money he is said to have obtained from fraud.
– He took everything from victims who couldn’t afford to lose money. The judge said it was necessary to have a ruling that had a deterrent effect.
Collaborating with Bulgarian businesswoman Ruja Ignatova, often referred to as the “Queen of Cryptocurrencies,” Greenwood founded what they claimed was a revolutionary new cryptocurrency.
No one today knows the extent of fraud around the world. According to the FBI, it amounted to at least NOK 40 billion in the two years between fall 2014 and fall 2016. In the same period there were at least 3.5 million victims.
Most of the victims were small, ordinary savers who had bet their savings on promises of fantastic returns.
In the years immediately before the pandemic, a number of Norwegians bet money on OneCoin and on purchasing so-called “educational packages” at its twin company OneLife, in a system that authorities in many countries believe is simply a camouflaged pyramid scheme.
Many of those who bet money did so on the recommendation of friends and relatives. Information meetings about the new cryptocurrency have been organized in small towns across Norway.
A representative of the Norwegian network informed the Lotteries and Institutions Authority in January 2018 that OneLife had about 13,000 members in Norway.
In the years leading up to the creation of OneCoin, Greenwood collaborated with several Norwegians in network companies that had similarities to illegal pyramid schemes.
Many managers in the pyramid network accused the company “Kon”, which E24 has written a lot about ithe has a background from OneCoin specifically.
-I feel broken
Sebastian Greenwood’s parents were present in a New York courtroom on Tuesday when their son, wearing handcuffs, a leg iron and a prison jumpsuit, was led away to receive his sentence.
In court, Greenwood said he did not believe he would emerge alive from the Thai prison where he spent the first two years after his arrest at his home on the island of Koh Samui in July 2018.
“I feel devastated,” Greenwood said in court, and apologized.
For the past three years, the Stockholm man has been detained in two notorious prisons in New York.
“The only thing I want is to touch the grass again, feel the sun on my face, celebrate my children’s birthdays and put them to bed in the evening,” the father of four said, according to Aftonbladet newspaper.
The public prosecutor requested a prison sentence of no less than 30 years for Al-Suwaidi.
– Judge Edgardo Ramos said: “It is a mystery to me how someone who had such a good upbringing, who did not need anything, still feels forced to take money from people who do not have anything.”
– As founder and president of OneCoin, Greenwood carried out one of the largest frauds ever committed, according to New York State Attorney General Damian Williams.
– In fact, OneCoin was completely worthless, and investors were left with nothing, while Greenwood slipped more than $300 million (more than three billion kroner) into his own pocket, the prosecutor said.
In demand all over the world
Today, crypto queen Ruja Ignatova is one of the most wanted people in the world, accused of fraud, money laundering and a host of other financial crimes.
The FBI assumes that Ignatova travels with armed guards, possibly on a false passport, and that she has changed her appearance using plastic surgery or other methods.
No one has been able to see the cryptocurrency queen since October 25, 2017, when she boarded a Ryanair flight from the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, to Athens. All paths end there.
A reward of 2.5 million Norwegian kroner awaits whoever can contribute to the capture of the cryptocurrency queen.
In prison with Epstein
In New York, Greenwood was being held in the same prison as convicted financier Jeffrey Epstein, the notorious Manhattan Correctional Center, when Epstein committed suicide in his cell in 2019. The death led to a complete closure of the prison.
The ruling in New York states that OneCoin never had a blockchain — a digital “ledger” that is a prerequisite for all cryptocurrencies.
Norwegian IT expert Björn Bjerke was the first to reveal that OneCoin did not have a blockchain – a revelation that led to a series of threats against it.
In its 2020 threat assessment, Okokrim described OneCoin as a scam linked to organized criminals in the Balkans.
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