Rashawn Russell, a former investment banker and registered broker who worked for Deutsche Bank, has pleaded guilty to charges relating to investment fraud, after orchestrating a cryptocurrency scheme to swindle investors.
The ex-Deutsche executive could face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison for his crimes.
Russell to Pay Restitution of Over $1.5 Million
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Russell’s guilty plea in a press release on Sept. 19, 2023. According to the DOJ, the former Deutsche Bank employee will pay restitution of more than $1.5 million as part of the plea deal and could be jailed for up to 30 years upon sentencing.
Russell operated a cryptocurrency investment fund called R3 Crypto Fund between November 2020 and August 2022, which promised to help investors get handsome rewards for their crypto investments.
However, the 27-year-old former investment banker allegedly misappropriated users’ assets, using the money gathered to repay older investors and also for personal use and gambling. According to prosecutors, Russell was able to deceive users by creating a fake document falsely showing significant liquidity. The fraudulent crypto fund managed to swindle $1.5 million from unsuspecting investors.
Apart from the crypto fund, the ex-Deutsche executive was also involved in an identity theft scheme between September 2021 and June 2023 by fraudulently acquiring credit cards and access to other devices using the names of third parties to carry out unauthorized transactions. Russell also pleaded guilty to engaging in identity theft.
Deutsche Bank’s Latest Crypto Efforts
While Russell initially denied the charges against him after being taken into custody in April 2023, the latest development signals a major turn in events. As previously reported by CryptoPotato, Russell already intended to plead guilty to cryptocurrency fraud.
A statement by the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Breon Peace, said:
“Russell leveraged investor interest in cryptocurrency markets to perpetrate a scheme to defraud clients who trusted him. The swift conviction in this case underscores this Office’s commitment to holding bad actors in the digital asset markets accountable.”
Although Deutsche Bank was not accused of any wrongdoing and did not offer any comment following Russell’s arrest, the German financial institution pledged to cooperate with law enforcement during its investigations. The investment bank recently partnered with Swiss startup Taurus to offer digital asset custody and tokenization services to clients.
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