By Chris King •
Updated: 13 Sep 2023 • 1:15
Image of OneCoin logo on the door of their office in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Credit: Ronny Martin Junnilainen/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
THE Swedish fraudster Sebastian Karl Greenwood was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a federal court in New York this Tuesday, September 12.
Greenwood was singled out as one of the principal characters behind OneCoin, which will go down in history as one of the biggest international frauds of all time.
Onecoin was a fictional cryptocurrency which officials said was founded in 2014 in Bulgaria. It functioned as a global pyramid scheme that eventually had an estimated turnover of around $4bn (£3.2bn).
Ruja Ignatova, a 43-year-old Bulgarian businesswoman is the other main character in the plot. The woman dubbed ‘Cryptoqueen’ is currently wanted worldwide by the FBI who have placed her on the list of the 10 Most Wanted.
Originally from Östermalm in Stockholm, the father of four had been waiting for almost five years for today’s judicial verdict. Several of his relatives were in the courtroom to hear the judge pass sentence on him.
Although he was handed 20 years, the five years that he already spent in custody will be deducted from the time he must serve, as reported by expressen.se.
According to the federal prosecutor Damian Williams, the OneCoin founder lived a life of luxury thanks to the money that had been flowing into his scam.
OneCoin sought to benefit from the success of Bitcoin, officials say, and “used the notoriety of Bitcoin to convince investors that OneCoin was the next ‘can’t miss’ investment opportunity”, the prosecution claimed.
The prosecution stated that Greenwood also invested in properties in Dubai, Spain, Thailand and several other countries. He also allegedly bought clothes and watches for around 10 million Swedish Krona and paid just over 6.5 million as a down payment for a Sunseeker yacht.
In December last year, Greenwood admitted to fraud and money laundering, but it was only today that the verdict was handed down.
‘Sebastian Greenwood targeted inexperienced people’, federal prosecutor Nick Folly said in court, according to Inner City Press reporter Matthew Russell Lee.
The prosecutor compared Greenwood to American financier Bernard Madoff’s billion-dollar fraud. However, Madoff defrauded thousands, while Greenwood’s scam involved millions, said the prosecutor, who argued for a 30-year prison sentence for the Swede.
His defence team argued that the time spent in an American prison was more than enough for their client. ‘This is not terrorism. He has been stripped of his humanity while in prison in these times. Even the United Nations has criticised his Thai prison’ said defence lawyer Lauren Schorr Potter, according to an Inner City Press reporter in the courtroom.
Citing the appalling conditions their client was forced to endure during his five-year prison term, Greenwood’s lawyers had previously argued in a letter that he had served enough prison time in the United States.
They pleaded with the judge that their client be either transferred to a prison in Sweden or alternatively, be fitted with foot shackles in his home country for the remainder of the prison term.
‘Karl’s involvement in the OneCoin conspiracy was a serious mistake and he has taken full responsibility for his crimes’, his lawyers wrote to the court, appealing for the most lenient sentence possible.
In the defence team’s 52-page submission to the court – which is partly confidential – they also referred to various letters written by the parents and other relatives.
These were partly with quotes and extracts from the letters, and partly via a special video with messages from the parents and another relative. The court classified the video as confidential.
Several of Sebastian Greenwood’s relatives also testified in letters about his good side. His lawyers also pointed to his confessions and the fact that he had accepted full responsibility for his dealings with the frauds.
Greenwood appears as a pattern prisoner in the lawyers’ letter. While in custody, he has studied various subjects and spent roughly 260 hours studying they explained.
These included studies in Spanish, plus leadership and personal development. In addition, he has acted as a teacher for several fellow interns and taught them, among other things, day trading and financial economics.
His lawyers also described another side of Sebastian Greenwood, far from the headlines and accusations of his billion-dollar fraud and duped OneCoin victims.
He apparently gave financial assistance to an orphanage with 98 toddlers on the island of Koh Samui in Thailand where he was originally arrested at his home in July 2018.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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