THE cryptocurrency space has been growing massively over the past few months and it has been hard for authorities to keep things in check and help protect the investments of their citizens. The Chinese government is, however, doing its best to ensure that the cryptocurrency space is safe for investors.
Prosecutors in the country have charged the last four suspects out of a total 98 people that were involved in the OneCoin cryptocurrency pyramid scheme, with the fraud amounting to an estimated $2.3 billion.
This latest development was released by the Zhuzhou Procuratorate’s office in the Hunan province, with the investigation taking the authorities over two years and covered twenty provinces in the region. 100 individuals involved in the operation dubbed as ‘Welka Coin’ have so far been arrested.
The report by the prosecutor’s office revealed that 106 suspects were studied but only 98 of them were prosecuted. Some of them have already been sentenced earlier, getting four years in prison for creating and leading a pyramid scheme while they were also fined, with the figures varying from roughly $1,500 to $780,000.
According to the authorities, this is the largest MLM scheme ever investigated in the Hunan province. The investigation saw the authorities look into over 20,000 bank accounts and analyzed millions of transactions during the two years the investigation lasted.
Local publication Legal Daily revealed earlier this month that the OneCoin scheme which operated in China had roughly 140 member levels and around 2 million registered member accounts that fund the scheme via 27 pool accounts.
Another local publication The Paper meanwhile reported that 119 individuals were arrested for their connections with OneCoin, with the authorities so far being able to recover only .7 billion yuan (approx. $266 million) of the total sum.
OneCoin was a pyramid scheme that was created by Ruja Ignatova, a Bulgarian national, and has received global scrutiny from law enforcement agencies over the past few years. Back in 2016, in order to stop the scheme from affecting more people, authorities in Belgium, Hungary, and the UK warned investors against it. India also prosecuted five senior OneCoin promoters in the country last year, calling it a “clear Ponzi scheme.”
In Italy, a consumer watchdog termed it as a pyramid scheme last year with the Finnish police later on revealing the results of its investigation and prosecution of the operation in the country. In Bulgaria, the Special Prosecutor’s Office raided local offices in the country earlier this year as the scheme faced more backlash internationally.