Last last week BIRD, the Bureau for Investigative Reporting and Data, published an article suggesting Ruja Ignatova was murdered in 2018.
It’s a well researched theory and supported by documents linked to law enforcement.
Here’s why I think it doesn’t hold up.
Crypto-queen Ruja Ignatova was killed in November 2018 on the order of Christophoros Amanatidis-Taki.
Ruja Ignatova (right) is founder and former CEO of the notorious OneCoin Ponzi scheme.
Christophoros Amanatidis-Taki, aka Hristoforos Amanatidis, Christoforos Amanatidis-Taki or just “Taki”, is a wanted Bulgarian drug lord.
Taki is one of the largest cocaine traffickers in Bulgarian history. He inherited the crime empire of Georgi Iliev, after he was shot dead in 2005.
The closest Bulgarian authorities came to nabbing Taki (right), at least publicly, was back in 2012.
Bulgarian authorities tracked Taki down to Dubai, who naturally declined to extradite him.
Taki is believed to have continued hiding out in Dubai until 2015, when charges against him were eventually dropped.
Taki is still believed to be in Dubai, although his lawyer says he isn’t subject to travel restrictions.
As of December 2022 and among other things, Taki is under investigation for his role in a $50 million heist dating back to 2002. The money is believed to be tied to terrorism.
Back home, Taki is good friends with head of Bulgaria’s federal homicide department, Mikhail Naumov.
Naumov is believed to have protected Taki within Bulgaria over the years.
Taki’s link to OneCoin and Ruja Ignatova come via his ex-girlfriend and real-estate dealings. Beyond that, whatever other links there are/were between Ignatova and Taki remain under wraps.
Lyubomir Ivanov, former head of the criminal division of Bulgaria’s national police, was shot dead on March 25th, 2022.
Within documents seized from Ivanov’s personal safe, Taki’s involvement in Ruja Ignatova’s claimed 2018 demise were found.
The document in question is a police report, detailing a purportedly drunken account from Georgi Goergiev Vasilev.
Vasilev is a close associate of Taki’s and, perhaps not surprisingly, also lives in Dubai. Vasilev is married to the sister of Taki’s wife, Boryana Shehtova.
As claimed by Vasilev on December 27th, 2019;
Taki ordered the murder of the cryptoqueen Ruja Ignatova, which happened in November 2018 on a yacht in the Ionian Sea, more than a year after as Ruja was last seen in Athens.
The body of the murdered woman was cut up and thrown into the water.
The hit was purportedly done by Hristo “Koeravi” Hristov, currently imprisoned in the Netherlands on heroin trafficking charges.
The Bulgarian Public Prosecutors Office verified the documents. They informed BIRD however that they didn’t and are not investigating the matter.
The documents also detail numerous luxury yacht trips taken by Mikhail Naumov and his family, all purportedly funded by Taki and his associates. Bulgarian Public Prosecutors didn’t investigate those reports either.
That documents are claimed to have been shared with the DOJ at some point. What the documents were doing in the personal safe of Lyubomir Ivanov remains unclear.
Seeking answers, BIRD put forth the following questions to Ivan Demerdzhiev, Bulgaria’s Minister of Internal Affairs;
After the analysis of this data, was a separate investigation into Ignatova’s murder opened, and if so, when did it happen? Has the prosecutor’s office been notified?
Has there been an investigation into the unusual contacts of Mikhail Naumov with Ivan Petleshkov and other persons related to Taki?
They never heard anything back.
Comment from Boyko Rashkov, former Minister for Internal Affairs, was also sought.
On the phone, Boyko Rashkov did not want to comment on whether he was aware of these inquiries, but emphasized that Mikhail Naumov had very questionable contacts with convicted persons and was removed from his post quite naturally.
Rashkov also commented that after he left the ministry, many controversial appointments took place there.
BIRD’s report claims Rashkov “removed” Naumov from his post. Elsewhere in the article however it is suggested Naumov is still head of Bulgaria’s federal homicide department.
Several attempts were made to contact Ilyan Bankov, the Public Prosecutor who oversaw 8467/2022, the case number corresponding to Vasilev’s report.
Multiple messages were left at Bankov’s office, none of which he replied to.
It was only after BIRD published its article that the Public Prosecutor’s Office, on behalf of Bankov, replied;
In connection with your letter, with which you raise questions regarding pre-trial proceedings under pr. pr. 8467/2022 according to the inventory of the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office, we provide you with the following information.
In the course of the investigation of the said file, sheets of A4 format paper with printed text were attached to the case.
They do not constitute a document, insofar as there is no information about their author, they do not bear a signature and do not represent a specific written statement of will of a specific natural person.
In this regard, they are not subject to verification through the methods of proof provided for in the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), namely the appointment of a graphic expert, whose conclusion will establish who wrote the text and who signed it.
Also, the cited sheets of paper were seized from a place used by a person who had died, and accordingly the circumstances presented in them cannot be verified even by questioning a witness.
Due to these considerations, the supervising prosecutor came to the conclusion that the prerequisites of Art. 216 of the Code of Criminal Procedure for the separation of the case, since at the moment no evidence has been collected of a possible murder – a crime under Art. 115 of the Criminal Code and/or possibly a crime committed on duty.
Investigation is a dynamic process. According to the mentioned pre-trial proceedings, new actions in the investigation are pending. The procedural act of dividing the case will be carried out if evidence is collected of possibly committed other crimes.
BIRD notes that, outside of their own research and sources, case 8467/2022 is sealed off from public access.
BIRD’s article, researched and reported on by Dimitar Stoyanov and Atanas Tchobanov, is well researched and certainly believable.
The problem from my end is there’s a lot of context and information missing.
Why was Georgi Vasilev drunk when he made the report?
What was the reason for the report?
Who killed the investigation into Vasilev’s report?
Why were copies of the report in Lyubomir Ivanov’s personal safe?
Surely ties to a woman on the FBI’s top 10 most wanted list warrants some Sheik’s nuts in a vice? Or is the UAE really that untouchable?
Bulgaria has long held the title of the EU’s most corrupt member. For that reason alone I was initially hesitant to put anything together on BIRD’s article.
Not to take anything away from Stoyanov’s and Tchobanov’s work, but it’s entirely possible this is a planted story to sow doubt and confusion into OneCoin criminal proceedings.
Nonetheless, BIRD’s article has taken off in mainstream media and following crypto spam blogs.
Personally I still think Ignatova is hiding out in Dubai, elsewhere in the UAE or Russia (increasingly unlikely given the situation in Ukraine).
The “travelling around in a yacht” theory is also there, but I’m not sold on the logistics required to keep that lifestyle going (and to what end?).
The “to what end?” question does bring us back to Taki ordering Ignatova dead. While she associated with organized crime, Ruja Ignatova herself wasn’t of organized crime.
She was a convenience and, to those she worked with, access to extraordinarily large amounts of cash.
Whereas Taki and his associates can bunker down in Dubai and continue their criminal exploits, Ignatova’s criminal career (ignoring some minor charges in Germany), began and ended with OneCoin.
If caught, Ignatova faces the rest of her life in prison – and there’s virtually no chance she walks. Notwithstanding any cooperation agreement she might reach with the DOJ, leading to who knows what about who knows who being exposed.
So why keep her around?
None of this heat is going anywhere. Ignatova is gigantic liability for the bigger organized criminals she associates with.
But then there’s also the other side of the coin.
In a statement to Martin Himmelheber from NRWZ, Duncan Arthur (right), who up until his arrest, travelled with Ruja’s brother Konstantin Ignatov, claims;
I know that Ruja Ignatova was still alive in March 2019, long after the alleged murder in November 2018.
I know that Konstantin was in regular and direct phone contact with Ruja as late as March 2019 long after the alleged murder plot.
In an additional statement to BehindMLM, Arthur claims;
K was speaking to Ruja right up until his arrest. He bitched about her, always used the present tense when speaking about her and got upset when he got certain phone calls.
Plus they found four numbers for her on his phone, there were current docs with her signature on on his laptop, etc.
There’s also the question of, if not Ruja Ignatova, then who are Ignatova’s UK lawyers representing with respect to her £13.5 million penthouse?
If Ruja Ignatova is truly dead at the hands of Christophoros Amanatidis-Taki, perhaps that’s the reason Konstantin’s plea deal included entry into the US’ Witness Protection Program.
Ruja Ignatova might very well be dead – but personally I don’t think she was murdered in 2018.