by Terence Zimwara
Masterminds of one of South Africa’s biggest bitcoin Ponzi schemes, Mirror Trading International (MTI), have been asked by the scheme’s liquidators to pay back over $291 million to cover the scam operation’s debts.
Liquidators of the South African bitcoin Ponzi scheme, Mirror Trading International (MTI), have issued summonses against eighteen individuals believed to be the masterminds behind the now-defunct scheme. The liquidators want the named individuals to pay back more than $291 million (4,666,077,528 rand) to cover the scheme’s debts, a report has said.
The move to summon the alleged MTI masterminds comes just a few months after liquidators unsuccessfully tried to have the online bitcoin trading platform declared an unlawful business by a South African court. As per a report by Bitcoin.com News, the move was frustrated by a slew of late court filings by lawyers representing MTI investors.
Investors were reportedly worried that the liquidators’ motion would give the latter excessive powers which may jeopardize their chances of recovering their funds. Following this intervention by investors, a South African judge subsequently postponed the hearing to a later date.
Masterminds Aware of MTI’s Insolvency
Meanwhile, a report by Mybroadband suggests that the liquidators have since asked the Pretoria High Court to hold MTI masterminds liable as per the dictates of the Companies Act. In their submission, the liquidators reportedly argued that summonsed individuals including the co-owners of MTI, Johann Steynberg and Clynton Marks, were aware the bitcoin trading platform was insolvent.
“[The defendants] were at all relevant times aware of the fact that MTI was trading in insolvent circumstances as well as of the actions perpetrated and constituting fraud upon MTI’s creditors,” the liquidators reportedly said in their summons.
Consequently, the liquidators assert that all the summonsed individuals must be held to account for their part in perpetuating MTI’s fraudulent business. Named the biggest crypto scam in 2020, MTI collapsed soon after its CEO Johann Steynberg disappeared with investor funds in late 2020. He was later arrested by Brazilian law enforcement in late 2021.
Following the online trading platform’s collapse, court-appointed liquidators have waged an ongoing battle against a group of investors opposed to the liquidation process. The group, which insists MTI is still solvent and thus should not be liquidated, wants the court to stop this process.
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Terence Zimwara is a Zimbabwe award-winning journalist, author and writer. He has written extensively about the economic troubles of some African countries as well as how digital currencies can provide Africans with an escape route.
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