Meeting With OneCoin’s Cryptoqueen: Neil Bush is alleged to have received $300,000 to attend a meeting involving OneCoin co-founder and current fugitive Ruja Ignatova, known as the “Cryptoqueen.”
As Law360 reported on Nov. 15, testimony in a U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York contained allegations against Neil Bush, brother of former President George W. Bush and son of the late President George H.W. Bush.
As Cointelegraph has reported, OneCoin is among the crypto industry’s most infamous alleged exit scams. Founded in 2014, the Bulgaria-based firm remains fully operational to date despite investigators’ allegations that it raised 4 billion euro ($4.4 billion) in a Ponzi scheme.
“Cryptoqueen” Ignatova is the sister of OneCoin co-founder Konstantin Ignatov, who signed a guilty plea in connection with the alleged fraud on Oct. 4 and now faces up to 90 years in jail.
Ignatova has been indicted on charges of money laundering and fraud but remains on the run.
The Bush connection
As Law360 reports, former Lock Lorde LLP attorney Mark Scott is currently standing trial for allegedly conspiring with Ignatova and her brother on OneCoin. He maintains that he believed the scheme was legal.
Neil Bush, a businessman, had been interviewed by the FBI due to his role as a board member of Hoifu Energy, which is owned by wealthy Chinese businessman Dr. Hui Chi Ming.
One of Dr. Ming’s companies is alleged to have pursued a $60 million loan to buy an African oil field and Scott’s counsel has subsequently argued that Bush’s indirect involvement with the deal contributed to Scott’s feeling confident enough to transact with those behind it.
The oil field deal was to be financed in cash and “a very large portion of the purchase price” in OneCoin. Details of the FBI’s interview with Bush were heard at the trial, with Garvin stating:
“Bush recalled that the head of Hoifu Energy, Dr. Hui Chi Ming, received a bunch of cryptocurrency for an oil deal in Madagascar. Bush had a residual interest in the cryptocurrency from the oil deal. Bush met the woman from the cryptocurrency company, Ruja Ignatova, in Hong Kong with Dr. Hui.”
At the trial, Judge Ramos is reported to have asked Scott’s counsel David Garvin:
“So, there was an actual meeting with Ms. Ignatova, Mr. Bush and Mr. Hui?”
Garvin affirmed the meeting, noting that Bush was paid $300,000 for his participation.
The FBI’s report allegedly noted that Hui had pledged Bush 10% of the sale if Hui was able to sell the cryptocurrency — yet the deal ultimately fell apart.
The judge quashed calls for Bush himself to testify before the court, heeding the argument made by Bush’s counsel that it would not be relevant, given that Bush was not on the board of the specific Hui company involved in the sale. The judge further concurred that Bush’s testimony would not add anything further to what was already included in the FBI’s report.
Ignatova remains at large
As reported, Ignatov testified on Nov. 6 that after his sister fled, the security personnel who accompanied her told him that she had met with Russian speakers. This has led investigative journalists to subsequently allege that she has the support and protection of an unnamed “rich and powerful” Russian person.