OneCoin: first trial in Germany?


According to a report by “Wirtschaftswoche”, the Bielefeld public prosecutor has brought charges against three accused at the Münster district court. A court spokesman had told the magazine that the prosecutors accused two people of “operating payment services without a permit and 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. At the request of the NRWZ, a court spokeswoman confirmed this information today.

The money is said to have come from the OneCoin educational package sales. Ruja Ignatova, who grew up in Schramberg, and her brother Konstantin Ignatov are the central figures in an international fraud scandal involving this alleged crypto currency. Ruja disappeared from the scene for three years, Konstantin has been in custody in New York since March 2019.

Search in Sofia

As reported, the Bielefeld public prosecutor’s office has been investigating a payment service provider from the Münsterland for years. Prosecutor Gerald Rübsam had reported to the NRWZ that it was necessary to find out who exactly this company was working for and whether the suspects knew what OneCoin was really about. Two and a half years ago, the Bielefeld public prosecutor had the OneCoin offices in Sofia searched.

For the investigating authorities, the case is very complex because of its international nature. They also had problems finding an appraiser for cryptocurrencies. The accusation against OneCoin is known to be that it never had a real blockchain. “Prove that something doesn’t exist,” Rübsam told NRWZ. In the meantime, however, Ignatov has testified in a trial in New York. This may have accelerated the process in Germany as well.

The proceedings in Bielefeld go back to an advertisement from a savings bank. In 2015, 2.5 million euros were received there within a few days and forwarded to other accounts. “We had received a money laundering suspicion from the Sparkasse,” said Rübsam to the NRWZ.

320 million and 60,000 incoming payments

A total of around 320 million euros had been pushed back and forth. More than 60,000 incoming payments have been registered. And that between December 2015 and September 2016.

OneCoin is “partially sect-like”, according to the Bielefeld public prosecutor, who also took part in the search of the OneCoin company building in Sofia. That is “quite impressive”.

Lawyers disagree

It is still open whether the Münster district court will allow the lawsuit. The lawyers of the three accused consider their clients innocent, they either did not know that a permit was necessary for their work or they acted in good faith, the Wirtschaftswoche quotes one of the lawyers.

This lawyer has specialized in distribution and crypto law, as can be seen on his homepage. He was also involved in other proceedings involving OneCoin. SBS LEGAL obtains acquittal for OneCoin sales! | de NRWZ made a request for a conversation with this lawyer. The third accused did not have sufficient suspicion, according to his lawyer, according to Wirtschaftswoche.

Violation of the Payment Services Supervision Act – ZAG – threatens up to five years imprisonment. Section 261 money laundering of the Criminal Code provides for up to ten years imprisonment in particularly serious cases.

The public prosecutor’s office had originally started nine preliminary investigations. The proceedings against four suspects have been closed, and two are still being investigated, according to Wirtschaftswoche.

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