A Cape Town court has granted a provisional liquidation order against Mirror Trading International (MTI), a South African Bitcoin trader company, as thousands of its clients were unable to withdraw their funds.
The orders came as two MTI clients approached the court with an urgent application against the shady business. MTI is believed to be holding around R9.45 billion ($644 million) received from almost 28,000 investors spanning across the globe.
The court orders followed several warnings by the South African Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) against MTI.
“Mirror Trading International and its senior management are conducting an illegal operation, misleading clients, and have contravened several laws,” the FSCA stated in a circular issued last month.
The regulator also warned MTI clients in August 2020 and asked them to part with the company by urgently withdrawing funds.
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MTI attracted investors with claims of at least 10 percent monthly return on their investments. It used or at least claimed of using high-frequency trading algorithms to generate profits and claimed that it missed its target only one day out of 200.
The local regulator earlier pointed out that the firm is unlicensed to carry out the trading operations and initiated a probe against it. The watchdog also slapped criminal charges against the company and also froze its accounts
CEO Ran Away
The worries worsened as the whereabouts of MTI CEO, Johann Steynberg, is now unknown. Steynberg is in control of the wallet with around 17,000 Bitcoins deposited by MTI investors, and he is believed to have fled the country.
The management of the firm also reportedly agreed to cooperate with law enforcement as they cannot contact Steynberg anymore.
Even before the South African regulator initiated its probe against MTI, the Texan regulator issued a cease-and-desist order against it, alleging it to be an international multilevel marketing scheme.