Ruja Ignatova is considered the mastermind behind the scheme (Image: -)
He was due to be sentenced on Friday February 21 after being found guilty in November of conspiracy to launder money and committing bank fraud. Despite protests to sitting US District Judge Edgardo Ramos from prosecutor Christopher DiMase to jail Scott until the sentencing hearing, he was allowed to return to his home in Florida under house arrest.
Brother of missing ‘Cryptoqueen’ swindler agrees to help detectives Lawyer behind OneCoin ‘Cryptoqueen’ scam is found guilty
Amid rumours of Scott being seen out to dinner on several occasions in Florida, he has also been granted an extension by Judge Ramos to defer sentencing until late April – leading several critics to fear the fraudster is hatching a plot to escape jail.
His co-conspirator – 33-year-old Konstantin Ignatov – took a plea bargain which traded his 90-year jail sentence for an agreement to assist investigators in the hunt for his older sister Ruja Ignatova who is considered the mastermind behind the scheme.
Ignatova, the 38-year-old self-proclaimed Cryptoqueen, disappeared in 2017 as the net of suspicion closed in after her connections with the Bulgarian Mafia began to emerge.
Her convicted cohort Mark Scott was responsible for routing a staggering $400m out of the US as he actively worked to hide the source and ownership of the money.
State prosecutors estimated he personally pocketed around $50m from the laundering.
Now, following the two-month extension to the sentencing, victims are worried justice may not be served.
Of particular concern is one of the closing lines in the letter to the court from Scott’s legal team which states “…this additional time will permit counsel to prepare for sentencing, including allowing for Mr Scott to undertake further testing and treatments for longstanding medical issues.”
That, fear some people duped by OneCoin, sounds suspiciously like groundwork for an attempt to evade a jail term.
“I think my eyebrows were first raised at the trial last year when the judge said Mark Scott was free to go home under house arrest – even though the prosecutors pleaded for him to be kept behind bars until sentencing,” said Iqbal Faheem, whose mother was fleeced of almost £8,000.
“My mother and several of her friends lost much of their savings because of people like Mark Scott and Ruja Ignatova, so we want to see justice done.
“Now, our fears are that some medical condition will be found that will keep him from prison or hand him a reduced sentence with a cushy cell.”
Mr Faheem’s mother and neighbours in Bolton, Lancashire, were promised huge returns for their investment – just like thousands of others in the UK which contributed almost £100 million to the worldwide $4bn taken in the scam.
Another victim, Tabish Hussain, also believes the extension is a ploy towards evading imprisonment.
“Look, if you’re facing the prospect of the rest of your life in jail, then it is understandable that you will do what you can to avoid that,” said the student from Batley, West Yorkshire.
“But this cannot be allowed to happen in this case, and I do not understand the judge’s thinking with the extension – he has already been found guilty, so this is deeply disappointing.
“I lost almost £4,000 in this terrible scheme, and I encouraged some of my associates into it as well which means I feel responsible for their loss also – justice must be done.”
Mark Scott’s sentencing date has been set for Wednesday, April 22 in New York.
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