In a recent development in the ongoing saga of the OneCoin cryptocurrency scam, Irina Dilkinska, the former head of legal and compliance for the fraudulent company, has been sentenced to four years in prison, according to a report by Bloomberg News on April 3, 2024. Dilkinska, 42, pleaded guilty in November 2023 to wire fraud and money-laundering conspiracy charges for her role in the $4 billion international Ponzi scheme.

OneCoin, which never had a functioning cryptocurrency, operated by offering commissions to members worldwide for recruiting others to buy worthless OneCoin packages, Bloomberg reported. The scheme was allegedly orchestrated by Ruja Ignatova, the self-proclaimed “Cryptoqueen,” who disappeared in 2017 as the organization came under suspicion. According to Bloomberg, Ignatova was added to the FBI’s list of Ten Most Wanted fugitives in 2022.

According to prosecutors, as reported by Bloomberg, Dilkinska assisted Mark Scott, OneCoin’s US-based lawyer, in laundering $400 million in OneCoin proceeds through a series of phony Cayman Islands investment funds between 2014 and 2019. Scott, a former Locke Lord LLP partner, was reportedly convicted of money laundering in 2019 and sentenced to 10 years in prison in January.

During the sentencing hearing, US District Judge Edgardo Ramos declined Dilkinska’s request to avoid prison and return home to Bulgaria to care for her two small children. Calling her “a woman of great intelligence and a woman who ought to have known better,” Ramos also ordered Dilkinska to pay $118.4 million in restitution. The judge expressed his disbelief at her continued involvement in the scheme, stating, “I honestly do not understand what prevented her from leaving the scheme before the point when it was brought down.”

The Bloomberg article went on to say that Dilkinska’s lawyer, John P. Buza, argued that her career had gone off track and that she had “fell under the spell” of the con artists behind OneCoin. Dilkinska sought leniency, citing the harsh conditions she endured during her one-year confinement at the federal Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in Brooklyn. According to Bloomberg, the MDC has been criticized for its dirty conditions, frequent lockdowns, poor medical care, and lack of staff. In a hand-written letter to the judge, Dilkinska described the jail as “a crucible of hardship, a place that seems designed to erode human dignity and spirit.”

Judge Ramos acknowledged that “some measure of leniency” in sentencing was appropriate for Dilkinska’s time in the MDC. The 16 months she spent in custody in Bulgaria before her extradition will be credited against her sentence.

The Bloomberg report also mentioned that Dilkinska is the latest person to receive a prison term for involvement in the OneCoin scam. Karl Sebastian Greenwood, the co-founder and main promoter of OneCoin, was sentenced to 20 years in September 2023 and is currently appealing his conviction based on the claim that a government witness against him lied on the stand.

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