Swede behind giant fraud – sentenced to 20 years in prison

Published 13 September 2023
- By Editorial Staff
Karl Sebastian Greenwood.

Karl Sebastian Greenwood, a 46-year-old native of Stockholm, is identified as the brain behind one of the biggest scams ever. Through the fictional cryptocurrency OneCoin, he, along with the so-called “Crypto Queen”, Ruja Ignatova, tricked investors from all over the world into investing over SEK 40 billion. Now a court in New York has sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

Sebastian Greenwood, who began using his middle name Karl as a nickname, was arrested in Thailand in 2018 after tricking people around the world into investing in a cryptocurrency that did not exist. His accomplice, Ruja Ignatova, is internationally wanted since 2017 and was charged in absentia, Bloomberg reports.

Between 2014 and fall 2016, despite total investments of 40 billion, OneCoin had revenues of over 30 billion according to the FBI. Profits during this period amounted to over 20 billion SEK.

Greenwood has been in custody in New York for five years on suspicion of money laundering and computer fraud. In December, he pleaded guilty to three of the criminal charges.

Karl takes full responsibility for what he has done and deeply regrets his actions,” his defense lawyers said, according to Swedish news outlet SvD.

Despite his confession and the time he spent in custody, the court chose to sentence him to a total of 20 years in prison. The five years Greenwood spent in custody will be deducted from the total sentence, meaning he has 15 years left to serve.

Around 60,000 Swedes are said to have invested in OneCoin. Greenwood’s defense asked the court to consider his remorse and the suffering of his parents, who, according to the defense lawyers, are “paralyzed by the fear of not seeing their son return home”.

The maximum sentence for each crime he was charged with was 20 years. Given the seriousness of the charges and the scale of the fraud, the court chose to impose a severe sentence, despite the defense’s request for a lighter sentence or extradition to Sweden.