OneCoin Lawyer Trial Begins in New York

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An American lawyer accused of participating in money laundering activities on behalf of the OneCoin cryptocurrency scam has seen his court case get under way in New York. Authorities claim that Mark Scott, who was arrested in September last year, funneled around $400 million through shell companies on behalf of OneCoin, although he claims he didn’t know that the company was up to no good.

Scott Says He Isn’t Guilty

OneCoin is a massive global cryptocurrency pyramid scheme masquerading as a blockchain-based social movement, which is thought to have raised around $4 billion since launching in 2014. Investors are urged to buy ‘packages’, but are rewarded more if they recruit others to sell them in typical pyramid scheme fashion. Scott was one of 23 people arrested in a crackdown on the scheme in 2017, which saw founder Dr Ruja Ignatova disappear – her disappearance is the subject of an ongoing BBC investigative podcast. The first day of Scott’s trial was apparently a rather dull affair, with lawyers arguing about what should and shouldn’t be accepted as evidence, although it should be noted that pictures of him in his two multi-million dollar properties and with his yacht and Ferrari were allowed in as evidence against him. Scott has entered a plea of not guilty, despite masses of evidence that he did indeed move the money around. He argues that he wasn’t aware that OneCoin was a criminal enterprise at the time, something that his lawyers will have to convince the jury of.

First in a Line of Prosecutions

Scott is the first in a procession of OneCoin associates preparing to take the stand. Co-founder Sebastian Greenwood is also being prosecuted on charges of operating a “digital currency pyramid scheme”, having recently been arrested in Thailand and extradited to the US for trial, as is Konstantin Ignatov, Ruja’s brother, who was arrested at Los Angeles airport in March on charges of conspiring to commit wire fraud. Ignatova herself is still at large, but even with a mass of arrests in the US and India and warnings issued by authorities all over Europe, the company still claims to operate as a legitimate cryptocurrency, stating that it runs on a “powerful blockchain” that operates “every minute” and that, after five years of no progress, an exchange where holders can finally sell their tokens is coming “soon”.