Another player in the notorious OneCoin scheme will face charges of wire fraud and money laundering upon extradition to the U.S., according to a newly unsealed indictment.
The document details charges filed against Frank Schneider following a Grand Jury hearing in 2020. It remained sealed until a court in the Southern District of New York approved a request made by U.S. attorney Damian Williams that it be made public on Monday.
The former Luxembourg intelligence official, whose private intelligence firm Sandstone carried out work for OneCoin, is accused of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
In an interview published in June this year, Schneider described his role at OneCoin as a “crisis manager” for the scheme’s founder Ruja Ignatova and claimed he had been close with the fugitive so-called “Cryptoqueen.” He also said he was not aware of any potential criminal activities at the time of his involvement.
According to the freshly unsealed indictment:
“Schneider helped to operate an international fraud scheme involving the sale of a purported cryptocurrency known as ‘OneCoin’ – by, among other things, managing the scheme's proceeds and evading law enforcement investigations into the scheme – as part of which false statements and misrepresentations were made to solicit individuals throughout the world, including in the Southern District of New York, to invest in OneCoin, thereby causing individuals to send interstate and international wires representing their OneCoin investments.”
If he is sent to the U.S. to face trial, Schneider will be the latest in a string of people appearing in court in relation to the $4 billion OneCoin Ponzi scheme.
Three alleged associates of Ruja Ignatova appeared in a German court in October, while Ignatova’s own brother Konstantin Ignatov pled guilty in 2019 to fraud and money laundering.
Another man, Christopher Hamilton, is set to be extradited to the U.S. from the U.K. to face charges over his alleged role in the scam.
But the whereabouts of the Cryptoqueen remain unknown. She was added to both Europol and the FBI’s most wanted lists earlier this year.
Frank Schneider’s efforts to avoid extradition
Arrested on the Luxembourg-France border in April 2021, Schneider has been trying to avoid being sent to the U.S. over his alleged crimes.
In October, a court in Paris upheld a previous decision siding with the U.S. Department of Justice that he should be extradited.
The Prime Minister of Schneider’s home country, Luxembourg, will not intervene in the extradition, local media reported last month.
From house arrest in Joudreville, in north-eastern France, Schneider told Luxembourg’s Radio 100,7 that he would prefer to be prosecuted in Luxembourg, where he would face up to five years in prison.
In the U.S., time served would be closer to 40 years, which he said would be “like a death sentence.”