UK OneCoin money launderers fight extradition to US
Two OneCoin money launderers in the UK are fighting extradition to the US.
Christopher John Hamilton and Robert McDonald are adamant if they have a case to answer to then it should be in the UK.
Appearing in court last Friday, defense counsel for Hamilton and Roberts argued
most of the alleged wrongdoing or harm took place in Britain, (and that) should prevent their extradition.
It is almost impossible to know where most of the harm from OneCoin fraud occurred. The one thing we can say for certain is that it is not in the U.S.”
This is based on OneCoin not ever really taking off in the US, leading to the majority of investor losses occurring elsewhere.
As reported by Law360 (paywall), in addition to laundering OneCoin investor funds, Hamilton and Roberts are also accused of stealing $32 million from Gilbert Armenta.
Defense counsel dismissed Armenta being a US citizen and resident as having any relevance to extradition proceedings.
It would be absurd to rely on the fact that Armenta is a victim whose interests have any bearing on where Hamilton and McDonald should be prosecuted.
Armenta was painted as a “middle-man”, with defense counsel arguing the funds in question belonged to Ruja Ignatova – who is of course missing.
Not sure what the timeframe for resolution of UK extradition proceedings are, but Friday was the last day for a hearing on the matter.
If Westminister Magistrates’ Court nixes extradition to the US, it’s highly likely Hamilton and McDonald will walk.
Second in notoriety only to Bulgaria, the home of OneCoin, UK authorities actively worked to ensure maximum OneCoin related harm to consumers.
The FCA buckled and retracted the warning, paving the way for OneCoin to publicly represent legitimacy in the UK.
Later that same year OneCoin went on to hold a marketing event, arguably its biggest ever, at Wembley Arena.
In 2020 the FCA approved a key figure in OneCoin’s money laundering operations, for the position of “Money Laundering Compliance Officer” at an unrelated company.
To date the only action UK authorities have taken against OneCoin was the arrest of three men in 2019, two of which I believe are Hamilton and McDonald.
Which in turn would mean the arrests were likely begrudgingly done at the behest of the US who, along with Germany, seem to be the only countries interested in holding OneCoin’s inner-circle accountable.
Whether the UK’s courts add themselves to the country’s OneCoin financial fraud enforcement shamelist remains to be seen.
Update 31st August 2022 – Christopher Hamilton has lost his initial bid against extradition to the US.
In a ruling handed down on Tuesday August 30th, Robert McDonald was excused on humanitarian grounds.