- Disgraced bitcoin trading platform Mirror Trading International has been placed into final liquidation by order of the Western Cape High Court.
- MTI collapsed in late December after it stopped paying out funds to members and its CEO Johann Steynberg went missing.
- Steynberg has not been heard from for more than five months.
South African bitcoin trading platform Mirror Trading International (MTI) - which at one stage claimed to have over 100 000 members and may have taken billions of rands in investments - has been placed into final liquidation.
The ruling was handed down by acting Western Cape High Court Judge Alma de Wet on 30 June.
De Wet heard the final liquidation application for the site in mid-June. At the hearing, Advocate Rinier Raubenheimer, for the applicants, told the court that MTI had accepted billions of rands in "hard-earned savings" from the public despite having absolutely no financial controls.
De Wet ruled that her order must be placed on a Telegram messaging group used to communicate with MTI clients by Wednesday.
MTI rose to prominence last year amid the Covid-19 pandemic, using a strong social media presence, YouTube videos, and referrals by friends and family to attract tens of thousands of members. It promised sky-high return for the "little man in the street" but collapsed in early December after it stopped paying out funds to its members.
It was provisionally liquidated later that month after its founder and CEO, Johann Steynberg, disappeared. It is also being investigated by the Hawks.
Steynberg has not been heard from for five months. His wife, Nerina Steynberg, told a pre-trial inquiry that her husband told her in December that he would be heading overseas for three weeks.
But she said he never returned from his overseas trip and she later filed a missing persons report at the Polokwane police station.
The final liquidation application did not, however, deal with Steynberg's whereabouts, or what happened to the bitcoin invested by members, which has gone missing.
In the first half of 2020, before the site was shut down, Steynberg told financial market regulator the Financial Sector Conduct Authority that MTI was managing 16 000 bitcoin. But the FSCA has also accused Steynberg, and other MTI's leaders, of repeatedly lying to it.