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What is Moneyland? That’s what the first half of this episode “The Missing Cryptoqueen” is about. The second part is about Frankfurt, the city where Jamie and Georgia think Dr. Ruja might be hiding. In any case, Moneyland is this mythical place where the money goes that millionaires and corporations want to disappear. The concept comes from British journalist Oliver Bullough, who “has spent many years investigating illicit money flows around the world, including Eastern Europe”. He is the guest star of this episode.

The Frankfurt part, however, is the most exciting segment of the entire podcast so far. The production team really stepped up their investigative game and got closer to Dr. Ruja than any police department. We know our summaries are phenomenal, but we recommend everyone listen to at least this second part.

Don’t forget you can download episodes straight from the BBCor listen to “The Missing Cryptoqueen” via Apple, SpotifyWhere iVoox.

Anyway, let’s go to Moneyland!

About “The Missing Cryptoqueen”, episode seven – “In Plain Sight”

Is Dr. Ruja alive? Before even mentioning Moneyland, producer Georgia Catt confirms a possible sighting of Dr. Ruja to presenter Jamie Bartlett. Staff at an Athens restaurant remember someone with Dr Ruja’s characteristics as part of a group of six. What they aren’t sure about is exactly *when* this happened. Interesting. The possibility of a Dr. Ruja traveling Europe could have been the catalyst for the Frankfurt part of the episode. But first, let’s go to Moneyland.

After hearing the basic facts of the OneCoin affair, journalist Oliver Bullough tells Jamie that once upon a time “Albania fell into anarchy due to a pyramid scheme”. As the crypto world has recently confirmed, these scams can be dangerous. Next, Bullough explains what Moneyland is. Rich, smart people can build their “assets in such a way that they become invisible”. They can still use them to “buy political influence and nice houses and yachts”.

However, when it comes to other people trying to find these assets, they become invisible. So, “that’s what Moneyland is, Moneyland is where those assets go.” This breaks Jamie, who asks if there’s any chance of finding them. Bullough tries to cheer him up by saying, “It’s not zero chance. It is, yeah. I mean, it was very well hidden, wasn’t it? And that’s not the most depressing part of the episode. After that, they inform us that the UK has stopped its investigation of OneCoin. They just gave up.

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Moneyland leads in Frankfurt

When things look bleaker, “The Missing Cryptoqueen” production team kicks things up a notch. They are stepping up their investigative arm a few notches and focusing on the internet. “We put so much stuff online now, and that information can give us away. And that’s what got us to where we think Dr. Ruja could be. That place is Frankfurt. Our heroes determine that Dr. Ruja’s ex-husband and his hidden daughter live in the city. Also, her best friend seems to have visited Frankfurt recently.

They arrive there and they find nothing, not a single trace. This part is awful. However, this leads Jamie and Georgia to a luxury neighborhood that resembles where Dr. Ruja would live. This is where Monelyland leads. There they find a charismatic but annoying postman who might remember Ignatova’s name. They leave this scenario open and “The Missing Cryptoqueen” returns to England.

To end the episode, Jamie has a very interesting chat with Cameron, “a UK-based OneCoin promoter”. Is he a true believer or is he just championing an extremely lucrative business? Cameron pulls out all the stops and carries the OneCoin party line to the very end. Wow. This is perhaps the most surprising part of the whole episode.

Quotes from episode seven of “The Missing Cryptoqueen”:

Oliver Bullough, explaining how money can disappear:

“If you’re rich enough and savvy enough or smart enough, you build your wealth in such a way that it becomes invisible. They still exist, you can still use them to buy things, you can still use them to buy political influence and nice houses and yachts. But when it comes from someone trying to track them down, be it a journalist or a police officer, the assets are invisible. And so that’s what Moneyland is, Moneyland is where those assets go.

Jamie Barlett on what brought them to Frankfurt:

“There is a place where we haven’t looked, not really looked. And that’s probably the most obvious place of all, the internet. We put so much stuff online now, and that information can give us away. And that’s what got us somewhere we think Dr. Ruja might be. Not Athens, Frankfurt. It took weeks of extremely boring internet research and careful review of everything we’ve learned so far.

Additional material, about “Moneyland”:

In The Guardian’s opinion from Oliver Bullough’s “Moneyland,” they quote a metaphorical definition of the term novel:

“He conceives of it as a secret, parallel world, almost like something out of a fairy tale: ‘The richest people…have dug themselves into this new land that lies beneath all of our nation-states, where borders have faded away. They move their money… and themselves where they want, picking and choosing the laws of the countries they want to live in.

The Guardian also says:

“It is surprisingly successful in opening up some of the architects of the offshore world and is sensitive to the fact that some of its users have good reason to avoid governments, such as wealthy dissidents fearing politically motivated confiscation of their assets. He also accepts an argument frequently made to him in notorious tax havens: that wealthier and less criticized countries like Britain were also involved in building and maintaining Moneyland.

Episode credits

Presenter: Jamie Bartlett
Producer: Georgia Catt
Story Consultant: Chris Berube
Publisher: Phillip Sellars
Original music and sound design: Phil Channell
Original music and voices: Dessislava Stefanova and the London Bulgarian Choir

Previous companion guides for BBC’s “The Missing Cryptoqueen” podcast:

Ep. 01 –

Ep. 02 –

Ep. 03 –

Ep. 04 –

Ep. 05 –

Ep. 06 –

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