OneCoin co-founder sentenced to 20 years for US$4 billion scheme

By James Langton | September 12, 2023 | Last updated on September 12, 2023
2 min read

The co-founder of a massive crypto fraud scheme has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in a scam that allegedly took more than US$4 billion from investors.

​A U.S. district court judge ordered that Karl Sebastian Greenwood — a citizen of the U.K. and Sweden who was allegedly behind the OneCoin scheme alongside the elusive “cryptoqueen,” Ruja Ignatova — must spend 20 years in prison and pay US$300 million in restitution for his role in the scheme.

Ignatova is at large and remains on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list.

According to U.S. authorities, the OneCoin scheme, which was based in Bulgaria, involved the sale of crypto through a multi-level marketing scheme that purportedly took in more than US$4 billion from millions of investors around the world.

“As a founder and leader of OneCoin, Karl Sebastian Greenwood operated one of the largest fraud schemes ever perpetrated,” said Damian Williams, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

“Greenwood and his co-conspirators, including fugitive Ruja Ignatova, conned unsuspecting victims out of billions of dollars with promises of a ‘financial revolution’ and claims that OneCoin would be the ‘Bitcoin killer.’ In fact, OneCoins were entirely worthless, and investors were left with nothing, while Greenwood lined his own pockets with over US$300 million,” he said.

“We hope this lengthy sentence resonates in the financial sector and deters anyone who may be tempted to lie to investors and exploit the cryptocurrency ecosystem through fraud.”

Greenwood was arrested in Thailand in 2018 and extradited to the U.S. to face fraud and money laundering charges.

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James Langton

James is a senior reporter for and its sister publication, Investment Executive. He has been reporting on regulation, securities law, industry news and more since 1994.