A lawyer convicted of laundering more than $400 million of proceeds from the fraudulent OneCoin cryptocurrency scam was sentenced to 10 years in U.S. federal prison on Thursday.
Mark Scott was convicted in 2019 of participating in “one of the largest fraud schemes ever perpetrated,” the Department of Justice said — a con that tricked investors into pumping at least $4 billion into a coin with no actual value.
Scott was a partner at the international law firm Locke Lord LLP when he was introduced to Ruja Ignatova, a.k.a. the “Crypto Queen,” who marketed OneCoin as the next Bitcoin at flashy events around the world and set up a massive multi-level marketing network to spread the OneCoin gospel. In reality, the coin had no blockchain, and Ignatova disappeared in 2017 as investigations into the scheme were intensifying.
In early 2016, Scott set up fake private equity investment funds in the British Virgin Islands, which he called “Fenero Funds.” About $400 million of proceeds from the OneCoin scheme were disguised as investments from “wealthy European families,” according to the DOJ, hidden in accounts in the Cayman Islands and in the Republic of Ireland. The money was then transferred back to Ignatova and others, purportedly for “outbound investments.”
Scott was paid more than $50 million for his services.
“Scott, an equity partner at a prominent international law firm, had boasted of earning ‘[$50 million] by 50.’ Indeed, Scott accomplished his goal, but by fraud and deception, and will now spend a decade in prison and has been ordered to forfeit all of his illegal proceeds,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams of the Southern District of New York.
According to the DOJ, at least for Scott the OneCoin get-rich-quick promise paid off, funding “a collection of luxury watches worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, a Ferrari and several Porsches, a 57-foot Sunseeker yacht, and three multimillion-dollar seaside homes in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.”
In November 2019, he was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. In a court filing last week, the U.S. Attorney’s office recommended a 17-year sentence.
On top of his 10-year sentence he is subject to three years of supervised release and a money judgment forfeiture of nearly $393 million, four properties, a yacht and a Porsche.
In September 2023, OneCoin cofounder Karl Greenwood was sentenced to 20 years in prison and in November the “head of legal and compliance” for the company pleaded guilty to wire fraud. Ignatova remains on the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” list.
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James Reddick has worked as a journalist around the world, including in Lebanon and in Cambodia, where he was Deputy Managing Editor of The Phnom Penh Post. He is also a radio and podcast producer for outlets like Snap Judgment.