British man avoids extradition to US over $5 billion crypto scam

A British man accused of conspiring to launder money from a £4 billion cryptocurrency scam won a High Court bid on Thursday to avoid being extradited to the US.

Christopher Hamilton, 64, challenged an August 2022 ruling that he could be sent to the US, where he faces charges linking him to a Ponzi scheme that allegedly defrauded 3.5 million victims.

In a ruling on Thursday, the High Court allowed his appeal and concluded that “he should be answerable to the law in the UK rather than the US”.

US authorities requested Hamilton’s extradition in August 2020 so that he could be prosecuted for conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud after an investigation into the cryptocurrency OneCoin.

Hamilton is alleged to have conspired with others to transfer between bank accounts millions of dollars of fraudulently obtained money.

He and an alleged co-conspirator are also accused of stealing millions of dollars of the proceeds of the OneCoin scheme.

At a hearing earlier this month, lawyers for the US government told judges that the OneCoin cryptocurrency was marketed as an investment.

It was promoted worldwide, including at an event at London’s Wembley Arena, with scheme members paid commissions for recruiting others to buy OneCoin.

The court heard that OneCoin was “a fraudulent Ponzi scheme” that had “no intrinsic economic value”.

City of London Police questioned Hamilton in April 2016 during an investigation into OneCoin and money was seized, the court heard.

No criminal charges were brought and the cash was returned. (AFP)