A co-founder of OneCoin has pleaded guilty to wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy in the US.

Karl Sebastian Greenwood, a British and Swedish citizen, faces a maximum of 60 years in prison when he is sentenced in April 2023.

US attorney Damian Williams said Greenwood’s plea “sends a clear message” that the United States Department of Justice is “coming after all those who seek to exploit the cryptocurrency ecosystem through fraud, no matter how big or sophisticated you are”.

Greenwood and FBI fugitive Ruja Ignatova – dubbed the ‘missing cryptoqueen’ – orchestrated a multi-billion-dollar fraud with OneCoin, which they dubbed a ‘Bitcoin killer’ but was in reality entirely worthless.

The pyramid scheme saw members promised commission for selling cryptocurrency packages containing OneCoin tokens and the ability to mine more, but new investors were paid with the money from those who came earlier.

They “conned unsuspecting victims out of billions of dollars”, said Williams, who described Bulgarian company OneCoin as “one of the largest international fraud schemes ever perpetrated”.

More than three million people invested in OneCoin, believing it to be the next big thing in cryptocurrency, some of them whipped up by packed public events the co-founders held in cities including London.

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Greenwood was arrested in Thailand in 2018 and extradited to the US. It has been revealed that he and Ignatova called OneCoin a “trashy coin” in emails in 2014, before the company was even founded.

According to the DOJ, Greenwood was earning $21.2 million per month as the “global master distributor” of OneCoin.

Ignatova is on the FBI’s ‘top 10 most wanted’ list, with a $100,000 reward for information leading to her arrest. Her last known whereabouts were in Athens, Greece in 2017.

Cryptocurrency shorts

Kevin O’Leary, host of Shark Tank – the US version of Dragons’ Den – says former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried should be “presumed innocent unless proven otherwise”. An investor in the collapsed crypto exchange, he was paid $15m by FTX as a brand ambassador. The US is attempting to extradite Bankman-Fried to the US from the Bahamas.

Aztec Network, described by co-founder Joe Andrews as an encrypted version of Ethereum, has raised $100m in a Series B round led by Andreessen Horowitz. It has also announced Aztec Connect, which will allow decentralised finance protocols to integrate privacy in hundreds of transactions, as the first application to be built on the network.

The Nigerian government is set to roll back its full ban on cryptocurrency – enacted in February 2021 – with a law that will recognise the usage of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Former President Babangida Ibrahim, chair of Nigeria’s House of Representatives Committee on Capital Markets, said: “We need an efficient and vibrant capital market in Nigeria. For us to do that, we have to be up to date [with] global practices.”

Crypto prices

The overall market cap of the 22,000 coins is at $807 billion at the time of writing (7am UK), a fall of 0.4% in the last 24 hours.

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For valuations of the top 100 coins by market cap in US dollars, plus 24-hour price change, see below.