Gilbert Armenta, Ruja Ignatova’s ex-lover, was sentenced to five years in prison for money laundering $300 million from OneCoin investors.
Gilbert Armenta, the former lover of Ruja Ignatova (dubbed the “Cryptoqueen”), is reportedly facing five years in prison for his involvement in the fake cryptocurrency project OneCoin.
The FBI’s ten most-wanted list includes Bulgarian-born Ignatova, the founder of the infamous Ponzi scheme. She was last seen in Greece in 2017, and some reports believe she was murdered.
According to Bloomberg Law, Armenta was sentenced to five years in federal prison by the Southern District of New York (SDNY) Courts for laundering $300 million in earnings from the OneCoin scheme. The 59-year-old was Ruja Ignatova’s ex-boyfriend and the scheme’s originator that cheated investors out of nearly $4 billion.
According to the preliminary inquiry, Armenta might face seven years in prison. But, in 2018, he pleaded guilty to money laundering, extortion, and wire fraud, resulting in a reduced sentence.
Matthew Lee, the founder of the public interest organization Inner City Press, offered more information on the defendant’s case. Armenta allegedly purchased luxury stuff, such as a jet plane, after laundering $300 million.
Afterward, he broke his deal with the authorities by selling the plane and stealing a $5 million check. Ignatova’s ex-boyfriend also bribed Mexican businesses and gambled monies taken from OneCoin investors.
Armenta’s counsel argued that his client was not violent and that his difficulties stemmed from his “romantic relationship” with the “Cryptoqueen.” “She drilled into his apartment and hired a couple to live next to him and spy on him,” she said. Armenta also purchased a Georgian bank, where Ignatova was already a customer.
The defendant requested that his sentence be served at FCI Miami Federal Prison, a low-security correctional facility for male offenders. The magistrates have yet to determine whether or not to grant the request.
OneCoin, a fraudulent cryptocurrency pyramid scheme founded in Bulgaria in 2014, stole more than $4 billion from millions between its establishment and 2016. Its owners solicited investors to purchase “educational packages” for digital asset trading ranging in price from 100 to 118,000 euros.
Those who made a purchase received OneCoin tokens, which could be swapped for currency on a specifically constructed internal marketplace. The venue set daily selling limitations based on the type of package purchased by each investor, limiting the number of coins that may be swapped.
In March 2016, the marketplace was closed for two weeks for maintenance, and it reopened in January 2017. Despite this, individuals associated with the business continued to collect funds.
Authorities in Bulgaria, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Latvia, and Croatia have repeatedly cautioned that OneCoin could be a fraudulent business and urged people to avoid it.
Ruja Ignatova, dubbed “the woman who deceived the world” by the BBC, was last seen in Athens, Greece, in 2017. Some reports suggested that she could have collected a large portion of the stolen monies while hiding on a luxurious yacht in the Mediterranean Sea. Because no authority or authorities are allowed to detain people twelve nautical miles from the coast, this could be an ideal spot for a fugitive.
Former Luxembourg intelligence chief Frank Schneider believes Ignatova was murdered: “I suspect she was murdered, and while I hope not, there is nothing to prove otherwise.”
The FBI also joined the hunt for the “Cryptoqueen,” adding her to its “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list. The organization also offered a $100,000 reward to anyone who might lead them to her location.
A penthouse worth approximately $15 million (purchased by Ignatova several years ago) resurfaced on the London housing market earlier this year, raising the possibility that the fugitive is still alive.
Prosecutors in Bielefeld charged Ignatova’s German lawyer with money laundering for transferring more than $21 million to cover the purchase of the apartment and a second flat in the complex.
The asking price for the home in one of London’s most desirable neighborhoods, Kensington, was then cut to roughly $13 million, and it is no longer for sale.
Knight Frank, the estate agent, did not confirm whether it had been sold but promised that it “complied fully at all times with its legal and regulatory requirements.”