Was Crypto Queen Murdered? BBC Unveils Evidence

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Key Takeaways

  • BBC releases new evidence on the alleged murder of Ruja Ignatova, the CryptoQueen, linked to organized crime.
  • Investigations reveal ties between Ignatova and crime lord Taki, with claims of her murder and body disposal in the Ionian Sea.
  • OneCoin scheme founders and associates face legal consequences, with co-founder Greenwood sentenced to 20 years.

BBC has published new evidence on the alleged murder of Ruja Ignatova, known as the CryptoQueen. Will there be a spate of investigations?

On June 3, BBC Eye Investigations and Panorama released new evidence regarding the so-called Crypto Queen, Ruja Ignatova. A Bulgarian fugitive, she is wanted by the FBI for defrauding investors of $4.5 billion through the fake OneCoin crypto scheme.

The evidence entails an in-depth investigation of her connections to organized crime and the alleged murder of Ignatova.

Crypto Queen Murdered?

The BBC’s latest investigation sheds light on the circumstances surrounding Ruja Ignatova’s disappearance. The published evidence shows strong links between Ignatova and a suspected Bulgarian organized crime lord, Hristoforos Nikos Amanatidis (also known as Taki).

According to former IRS investigator Richard Reinhardt, Taki was allegedly responsible for Ignatova’s security.

“We were told, allegedly, a big-time drug guy was in charge of her physical security. Taki came up more than once; it wasn’t like it was a one-off. That was a recurring theme,” he added.

The exact nature of the connection between Taki and the CryptoQueen remains unclear, but sources suggest they had a close relationship.

Leaked Europol documents revealed that the Bulgarian authorities suspected Taki of leveraging OneCoin’s financial infrastructure for illicit activities such as money laundering and drug trafficking. Despite these allegations, Taki managed to evade prosecution and is believed to be residing in Dubai, where Ignatova’s fraudulent gains were allegedly funneled.

Bulgarian investigative journalist Dimitar Stoyanov reported a police document discovered after the murder of a Bulgarian officer, which contains allegations that Ignatova was killed on Taki’s orders in 2018. The document claims that her body was dismembered and disposed of in the Ionian Sea.

While these claims remain unverified, some of Taki’s criminal associates have supported the theory, suggesting that Ignatova had become a liability to them.

OneCoin Crypto Scheme and Arrests

OneCoin was founded in 2014 by Ruja Ignatova and Karl Sebastien Greenwood. It emerged during the early stages of the cryptocurrency revolution. Marketed as a fintech venture, OneCoin introduced its native token, ONECOIN, for mining and transactions.

Unlike Bitcoin’s decentralized model, OneCoin was internally managed. The fraudulent cryptocurrency gained traction for its promises of high returns and referral bonuses.

The scheme quickly amassed over three million users and reported staggering revenues of $4.3 billion in 2015, with profits totaling $3 billion from 2014 to 2016. However, its centralized nature and suspicious activities raised red flags, leading to regulatory inquiries and legal action.

In 2017, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) charged Ignatova with wire fraud and money laundering. Shortly after, she vanished, last seen boarding a flight from Sofia to Athens in October 2017. Despite all efforts to arrest her, she remains at large. Currently, she is the FBI’s most wanted woman.

On April 3, 2024, Irina Dilkinska, OneCoin’s Legal Chief, received a four-year prison sentence for her role in the scheme, a $111.44 million forfeiture, and one month of supervised release.

This verdict is part of a broader crackdown, as several other OneCoin executives and associates have also been convicted and sentenced for their involvement. Karl Sebastien Greenwood, the co-founder, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and money laundering and received a 20-year sentence from the DoJ in September 2023.