BBC: Ruja Ignatova learned from Bulgarian Services that She was being Investigated by the FBI
Ruja Ignatova, also known as the "disappeared crypto queen", was informed that she was being investigated for her $4 billion cryptocurrency scam before she disappeared, the BBC reported.
The 42-year-old woman, born in Bulgaria, is wanted for her alleged role in running the OneCoin scam. Europol meeting files seen by the BBC show that the FBI-wanted Ignatova knew about the attempts to arrest her months before she disappeared.
Police documents were given to The Missing Cryptoqueen podcast by Frank Schneider, a former spy and trusted adviser to Ignatova.
Schneider claims that he received the documents from the crypto queen herself on a USB flash drive. According to him, the metadata of the files suggest that she obtained the information that she was being investigated through her own contacts in Bulgaria.
Schneider now faces extradition to the US for his alleged role in the OneCoin scam.
Ignatova went missing on October 25, 2017. In June 2022, she was added to the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List.
The police records contain presentations made at a Europol meeting under the name "Operation Satellite" in The Hague on 15 March 2017.
According to the documents, the meeting was attended by the FBI, the US Department of Justice and the New York District Attorney. Employees from Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Dubai and Bulgaria also participated.
The documents contain information that US authorities had a "senior confidential informant" in the scheme, OneCoin bank accounts receiving funds from investors. Unsuccessful attempts by the British police in London to interview Ignatova were also recorded, the BBC explains.
The FBI has not commented on the Europol documents, but Special Agent Paul Roberts explains on The Missing Cryptoqueen:
"There were worldwide investigations into her and OneCoin in general, many of which she learned about due to the actions of law enforcement agencies in other countries."
In 2019, U.S. prosecutors announced in court that Schneider was the one who provided her with confidential police information, although it is unclear if the allegations relate specifically to the leaked files discussed in the podcast.
He denied obtaining the documents and said:
"When the Bulgarians participated in certain Europol meetings, it only took her hours to get the information of what was said at those meetings. I can only conclude that (the information) came from the circles in which she was a part of, and the connections she had with various influential personalities".
The documents show that representatives of the Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior were present at the Europol meeting. The BBC has asked our ministry whether its officials can be held responsible for the leak, but has not heard back. No other law enforcement officer present would comment on how the information got out.
Europol told the BBC it was looking into the matter, adding:
"This complex, multi-stakeholder scenario makes it difficult to assess where and how such an incident might have occurred."
The US Department of Justice, the New York District Attorney's Office and Dubai Police did not comment
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