Provisional liquidators named to trace funds invested in Stellenbosch Bitcoin trader MTI

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  • Two weeks after it was placed into provisional liquidation, four provisional liquidators have been appointed to investigate what transpired at South African bitcoin trading platform Mirror Trading International.
  • This comes as the group's founder and CEO, Johann Steynberg, has still not been heard from in three weeks.
  • Thousands of members in South Africa and abroad who invested in the trading platform in the hope of earning passive income have been unable to withdraw their investments. 

Provisional liquidators have been appointed to take control of the assets and liabilities of Mirror Trading International, a South African bitcoin trading company whose founder and CEO has not been heard from in three weeks. 

In late December the Cape Town High Court granted a provisional liquidation order against MTI, which boasted of having tens of thousands of members in over 90 countries. 

The ruling came after the Financial Sector Conduct Authority, which oversees SA's financial institutions, said in December that initial indications from its probe into MTI were that the cryptocurrency trading platform was be an illegal operation which misled clients and contravened several laws, including operating without a valid licence. 

MTI had previously defended its businesses, accusing detractors of being jealous of its success.

The FSCA has since closed its investigation and is expected to decide later in January whether it will take further administrative action. Its head of enforcement, Brandon Topham, said the group's primary concern was to protect potential and current investors from ongoing exploitation.

"With the business now terminated our primary concern is addressed," he said, adding the FSCA would assist police. 

According to a notice from the Cape Town Master's Office, the four provisional liquidators are A.W Van Rooyen, H. Bester, Jacolien Frieda Barnard and Deidre Basson.

Creditors will reconvene in early March to show why a final liquidation order should not be granted. If granted, final liquidators will be appointed.

According to Cape Town attorneys Luitingh and Associates, the provisional liquidators will now start to take control of the assets and liabilities of MTI to establish what transpired at the company. They will also attempt to retrace all funds. The liquidators will then report back to creditors about the likelihood of success in getting their investments back. 

Creditors will be anxious to hear whether the vast amounts apparently invested in the platform - over R9 billion, according to leaks of MTI backoffice data - actually exist and, if so, are recoverable. 

Luitingh and Associates is one of two law firms that lodged applications for liquidation against the cryptocurrency trading platform last month. The other application was lodged by Vezi & De Beer Attorneys. It their application that secured the provisional liquidation order last month.  

CEO still missing 

Meanwhile, the group's founder and CEO, Johann Steynberg from Polokwane, is still missing. Steynberg apparently last communicated with members in mid-December, around the time that the FSCA put out a statement to say that MTI appeared to be an illegal operation. 

On the group's Telegram channel, used for updates to members, two messages posted in December stated that Steynberg had left the country and may be in Brazil. Fin24 has been unable to reach Steynberg for comment on his cellphone.

Our investigation is closed and we will make a decision in the month as to any further administrative action we will take. Our primary concern was to protect potential and current  investors from ongoing exploitation and with the business now terminated our primary concern is addressed. 

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