The American financial regulatory agency CFTC has sued a South African speculative platform, as well as its manager, and is demanding the return of 1.7 billion dollars deposited in cryptocurrency by customers.
Placed in compulsory liquidation in July 2021, Mirror Trading International (MTI) guaranteed investors potential returns of more than 100% per year, thanks to an algorithm which made it possible to carry out transactions on the foreign exchange market, which proved to be to be imaginary.
According to the CFTC, MTI and its chief executive, South African national Cornelius Johannes Steynberg, accepted more than $1.7 billion in bitcoin deposits, some of which came from some 23,000 U.S. residents.
It is the
“largest fraud involving bitcoins ever prosecuted by the CFTC
,” the regulator said in a statement.
According to several South African media, MTI had nearly 300,000 users when it was suspended in December 2020.
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MTI is the subject of several investigations and an international arrest warrant has been issued by Interpol against Cornelius Steynberg, who was arrested in Brazil last December.
He is currently in detention pending a decision on an extradition request from South African authorities.
It is also subject to civil proceedings in South Africa at the initiative of users of the platform.
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The CFTC has warned MTI victims that they may never recover their stake
"because the offending persons may not have sufficient funds"
A liquidator has been appointed in South Africa to try to recover the missing money.
With the popularization of the cryptocurrency industry, cases of fraud have increased in recent years.
US authorities announced on Thursday that Ruja Ignatova, nicknamed "Cryptoqueen", has been placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.
In 2014, this entrepreneur of Bulgarian origin and naturalized German had launched OneCoin, a cryptocurrency project which allowed her to collect more than 4 billion dollars.
But the currency never saw the light of day, and Ruja Ignatova embezzled most of the funds.