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Irina Dilkinska, the former head of legal and compliance at cryptocurrency OneCoin, pled guilty on Thursday to wire fraud and money laundering charges related to the multi-billion dollar pyramid scheme.
Dilkinska admitted in Manhattan federal court to helping launder $110 million in illicit profits generated through OneCoin's global multi-level marketing network. Despite her role overseeing legal and compliance, Dilkinska assisted in running day-to-day operations and failed to ensure the company followed the law.
Dilkinska was charged in March and extradited from Bulgaria to the U.S..
"As OneCoin’s so-called ‘Head of Legal and Compliance’ Irina Dilkinska accomplished the exact opposite goal of her position," said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in a statement. "As she has now admitted, Dilkinska facilitated the laundering of millions of dollars of illicit profits OneCoin accrued through its multi-level-marketing scheme."
Dilkinska faces up to five years in prison on each count when she is sentenced in February 2024. She is the latest defendant brought to justice in the ongoing OneCoin case, though ringleader Ruja Ignatova remains at large after disappearing in 2017. Ignatova was added to the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted list last June.
OneCoin was founded in 2014 by Ignatova and Karl Sebastian Greenwood, who marketed the fraudulent cryptocurrency as a revolutionary digital currency that would overtake Bitcoin. Ignatova, known as the "Cryptoqueen," and Greenwood launched OneCoin in Sofia, Bulgaria and utilized a global multi-level marketing structure to promote and sell packages tied to the fake cryptocurrency.
Earlier this year, Bulgarian officials claimed that OneCoin founder Ignatova was murdered in 2018. That report relied on documents in possession of a Bulgarian police officer who himself had recently been murdered, according to a local news outlet.
OneCoin saw rapid growth through its pyramid-like commission structure, which rewarded members for recruiting others to purchase cryptocurrency packages.
From late 2014 to late 2016 alone, OneCoin generated over $4 billion in sales revenue from the approximately 3 million people who invested worldwide. However, there was no real blockchain or cryptocurrency behind OneCoin, and it operated solely to defraud investors out of billions. Ignatova disappeared in 2017 after charges were filed, and Greenwood was arrested in 2018.
Greenwood himself pled guilty to wire fraud and money laundering charges in December 2022. In September, he was sentenced to serve 20 years in prison for his involvement with OneCoin, according to the DOJ.
Editor’s note: This article was written with the assistance of AI. Edited and fact-checked by Stacy Elliott.