US authorities arrest and charge new figure in OneCoin scheme — who is William Morro?


Officials with the United States Justice Department have arrested and charged William Morro for bank fraud in connection with the OneCoin crypto scheme.

According to April 23 filings in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Morro was responsible for transferring $35 million in funds connected to OneCoin from bank accounts in China to one in Hong Kong in 2016. The superseding indictment alleged that Morro moved more than $6 million from the Hong Kong account to a U.S. one he controlled as part of a scheme to defraud.

Source: PACER

Morro voluntarily surrendered to authorities and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. He has been released on his own recognizance until a sentencing hearing scheduled for Aug. 1. Justice Department officials included an order of forfeiture related to the illicit assets in the OneCoin case.

Reports suggested that Morro was connected to Gilbert Armenta, the boyfriend of OneCoin founder Ruja Ignatova. Armenta was sentenced to five years in prison in 2023 for his role in laundering roughly $300 million related to the OneCoin scheme. Morro is listed as a managing partner of the InterAmerican Group and a board member of AEE Power.

What information prompted U.S. officials to bring a superseding indictment against Morro roughly eight years after his alleged fraudulent actions is unclear. The Justice Department has charged several individuals for their roles in the OneCoin scheme, including lawyer Mark Scott, former head of legal and compliance Irina Dilkinska, and co-founder Karl Sebastian Greenwood.

Ignatova, also known as the ‘CryptoQueen,’ has been charged in the U.S. but remained at large at the time of publication. She is currently on the FBI’s list of the ten most wanted fugitives.

Related: OneCoin: A deep dive into crypto’s most notorious Ponzi scheme

According to the April 23 filings, Morro retained Mark Cohen and Jonathan Abernethy of the law firm Cohen and Gresser. Cohen famously represented Sam Bankman-Fried during his 2023 criminal trial, in which the former FTX CEO was convicted of seven felony counts and later sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Founded in 2014, OneCoin was exposed as a fraudulent crypto scheme in 2015, defrauding investors out of roughly $4 billion. In Morro’s case, a charge of conspiracy to commit bank fraud could carry a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.

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