Chinese Prosecutors Charge 4 More People over Alleged $2B OneCoin Scam

Chinese prosecutors have filed charges against four more individuals, bringing to 98 the number of people prosecuted in connection with the OneCoin pyramid scheme.

Prosecutors in China’s Hunan Province have filed charges against four more individuals suspected of involvement in the alleged ‘Weika Coin’ scam. ‘Weika Coin’ is the Chinese for OneCoin – the purported $2 billion pyramid scheme that has recently received much media attention.

In a statement, the Supreme People's Procuratorate said the latest charges bring to 98 the total number of people prosecuted for allegedly deceiving investors across more than 20 provinces in China and some foreign jurisdictions.

The news release stated:

“The Zhuzhou County Procuratorate investigated 106 people, filed a public prosecution of 98 people, and recovered nearly 1.7 billion yuan [$266 million] of funds involved in the case. This was the largest number of people involved in the investigation and prosecution, and the largest amount of economic loss recovered."

According to the official report, Chinese authorities began their investigation into the alleged pyramid scheme in September 2017, conducting it in three phases. Some defendants have already been sentenced to up to four years in prison and/or hit with fines ranging from 10,000 yuan to 5 million yuan ($1,565 to $783,000).

The multi-level marketing scheme victimized nearly two million people who invested as much as 15 billion yuan ($2 billion). According to the prosecutors, the perpetrators evaded financial supervision by depositing the money in foreign accounts, thus “seriously endangering national financial security and stability.”

The Chinese authorities added they were conducting a prosecution summary meeting to assess the work done so far as well as conduct “a review of inadequacies and handling measures, rethinking the process of handling cases, examining methods of handling, extracting methods for optimal processing of cases, and ensuring the quality of case handling."

The OneCoin scheme was reportedly started by Bulgarian national Ruja Ignatova, who became the subject of investigations by law enforcement agencies around the world on suspicion of fraudulent activities.

Last July, the Navi Mumbai Police’s Economic Offences Wing in India filed formal charges against Ignatova before the Thane Sessions Court, accusing her of running a Ponzi scheme and defrauding victims out of about $11.4 million.