Russian Court Jails Finiko Executive for Three Years in Major Crypto Scam

Key Insights:  

  • Finiko Executive Liliya Nurieva was sentenced to three years for her involvement in the Finiko crypto scam.
  • Finiko defrauded investors out of approximately $1.1 billion using a Ponzi scheme.
  • Nurieva is the first Finiko executive to be sentenced, marking a significant legal development.

A Russian court recently sentenced Liliya Nurieva, a former executive of the notorious Finiko crypto scam, to three years in prison. The court in Vakhitovsky, Kazan, announced the verdict on May 17, taking into account the time she had already spent in pre-trial custody.

Finiko, which launched in 2018 as a supposed crypto investment fund, promised investors high returns through an automated profit-generating system. The scheme guaranteed profits of up to 30% on stakes of $1,000 or more. However, it collapsed in mid-2021, leaving thousands of investors with significant financial losses.

Nurieva, who served as the head of networks at Finiko, was initially facing a ten-year sentence. However, she managed to negotiate a pre-trial agreement with prosecutors, resulting in a reduced sentence. 

Despite this, the judge rejected prosecutors’ requests to extend her sentence to six and a half years. Her lawyer stated that Nurieva plans to appeal the verdict, maintaining her innocence and claiming she was unaware of the scam’s fraudulent nature when she joined the company.

The Central Bank of Russia estimates that Finiko defrauded investors out of approximately $1.1 billion, much of which remains unrecovered. During its peak, Finiko attracted nearly 10,000 investors by offering various borrowing and financing services with extremely generous rates. The firm gathered funds using Bitcoin and issued its crypto asset. However, by mid-2021, the company’s platforms became unstable, and payments to investors were halted.

Interpol arrested Finiko co-founder Edvard Sabirov in the UAE in late 2022 following an extensive international manhunt. Another co-founder, Kirill Doronin, was arrested in mid-2021. Despite these arrests, Nurieva is the first Finiko executive to be sentenced. 

This case also sets a precedent for handling similar fraudulent schemes in the future. Nurieva’s sentencing could lead to stricter regulations and increased oversight within the cryptocurrency industry, potentially preventing such large-scale scams from occurring again.

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