The Cape Town High Court has granted a provisional liquidation order against Stellenbosch-headquartered Bitcoin trading company Mirror Trading International, whose founder and CEO has not been heard from for over a week.
According to the provisional liquidation order, the court has asked creditors and interested parties to reconvene in early March to show why a final liquidation order should not be granted.
Cape Town attorneys Luitingh and Associates lodged one of two applications for liquidation against the cryptocurrency trading platform on behalf of an MTI client who had allegedly been unable to withdraw funds. The attorneys have also asked creditors to contact them to lodge claims against MTI.
"The Master of the High Court will now appoint a provisional liquidator to urgently take control of the assets and liabilities of MTI," they said in a short statement on Tuesday.
The other application was lodged by Vezi & De Beer Attorneys, also on behalf on a client who alleged he has been unable to withdraw funds. It was this application that secured the provisional liquidation order.
The applications for liquidation came after the Financial Sector Conduct Authority announced earlier this month that the trading platform was, in its view, an illegal operation.
The regulator said that MTI appeared to have mislead clients and contravened several laws, and that a probe had found that MTI was not licenced to conduct financial services. MTI has previously defended the legality of its businesses, accusing detractors of jealously of its success.
While the order of the court will now be served on MTI's registered business premises, it is not clear whether the court will be able to reach the group's founder and CEO Johann Steynberg.
According to two notices sent to members by MTI leadership on a Telegram channel used for updates, Steynberg left South Africa earlier in December and may be in Brazil.
This appears to be confirmed in a letter included in court papers written by MTI's previous lawyers, Ulrich Roux and Associates, who stated on December 21 that Steynberg is "no longer in South Africa". The lawyers, in the same letter, announced that they were left with "no choice" but to withdraw as MTI's attorneys of record.
Fin24 has been unable to reach Steynberg for comment on his cellphone. MTI did not reply to previous email requests for comment about the liquidation application.