Macau businessperson Frederico dos Santos Rosário and his Hong Kong business partner, Dennis Lau, are being prosecuted in Macau for promoting OneCoin, a fraudulent $4 billion USD cryptocurrency scheme started by Bulgarians Ruja and Konstantin Ignatov and pervaded across the world.
“Frederico dos Santos Rosário was arrested in September last year, eventually released on payment of a security deposit of 50,000 patacas and forced to make weekly presentations to the authorities.”
Macau Judicial Police reportedly arrested the two men after they were informed that, “71 Macao people, aged 22 to 63…were reportedly cheated at 14.2 million patacas (~$1.77 million USD).”
Each alleged victim reportedly, “invested between MOP 10,000 (~$1250 USD and 1,8 million ($224 000 USD) in the hope of high returns, in some cases over 25%.”
Santos Rosário allegedly held OneCoin promotional meetings at the headquarters of the Association of Civil Service Workers, where his mother, Rita Santos, presides over the general assembly.
“Some investors even said they advanced on Rita Santos’ recommendation,” the Journal reports.
Both Frederico dos Santos Rosário and Rita Santos have denied that they engaged knowingly in fraud, and claim they, too, were deceived by OneCoin.
They also say Frederico dos Santos Rosário was the one who first reported the OneCoin scam to local police.
OneCoin co-founder Konstantin Ignatov was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport in March and was charged in the U.S. with wire fraud conspiracy for marketing OneCoin.
Ignatov’s sister, Ruja Ignatova, was also charged in absentia in the US with wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering.
Ignatova remains at large after “going on maternity leave” and disappearing when the indictment agains her was levelled in the U.S. in the fall of 2017.
Contrary to founders’ claims that OneCoin was a genuine cryptocurrency circulating on a blockchain, investigators found that OneCoin possessed no valid blockchain and that, “…the value of OneCoin is determined internally and is not based on market supply and demand.”
In this environment of no real fundamentals, “The purported value of a OneCoin has steadily grown from €0.50 to approximately €29.95 per coin, as of January 2019,” the New York District Attorney’s office has claimed.
The NYDA also claims Ignatova was well aware of the fraud she was undertaking, and once, “…described her thoughts on the ‘exit strategy’ for OneCoin. The first option (was)… ‘Take the money and run and blame someone else for this …’”
OneCoin counsel Mark Scott was convicted of money laundering and bank fraud in late November and is facing up to 50 years in prison in a U.S. jail. Ruja Ignatova is still at large and was recently profiled in an extensive BBC audio documentary.
OneCoin continues to operate in some regions. Regulators in Uganda, Nigeria, Bulgaria, Italy, Germany, Samoa, Singapore and other countries have all issued notices warning consumers to be wary.