Mirror Trading International: Missing CEO's estate provisionally sequestrated

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Getty Images
  • The estate of Johann Steynberg, the missing CEO of bitcoin trading platform Mirror Trading International, has been provisionally sequestrated.
  • Steynberg went missing in mid-December, a few days before authorities announced the platform was illegal. 
  • MTI's collapse hurt thousands of members, who have been unable to withdraw their investments.

Four months after he disappeared, the estate of missing Mirror Trading International (MTI) CEO Johann Steynberg has been provisionally sequestrated.

The applicants in the case were the five joint provisional liquidators of MTI. 

The order was handed down in the Polokwane High Court last week. The court ruled it did not have to furnish Steynberg with a copy of the order as he could not be found. 

Steynberg was the CEO and face of of local bitcoin trading platform, which promised lavish returns to investors together with commissions for recruiting new members.

MTI's leadership in the past strenuously denied it was a Ponzi scheme, accusing detractors of jealousy. But the scheme suddenly imploded in December when it stopped paying out funds to members. It was provisionally liquidated soon after.  

It was later named 2020's biggest global cryptocurrency investment scam by data firm Chainalysis.

Vanishing act 

Steynberg, who had a long history of selling investment schemes, was MTI's sole director, according to the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission.

In mid-December, a few days before market regulator the Financial Sector Conduct Authority announced it believed MTI was an illegal operation, he went missing.

Around the same time, two messages were posted on an MTI social media channel saying that Steynberg had left the country and may be in Brazil.

Fin24 has been unable to reach him.

Cheri Marks, MTI's former head of communications and marketing, previously told Fin24 that Steynberg "willingly" left SA.

"We advised against it. He decided to leave," she said. 

A final sequestration hearing will take place on July 20.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape High Court is set to hear why MTI should not be placed into final liquidation at the end of May. 

MTI Timeline
  • 4 April 2019: Johann Steynberg registers Mirror Trading International as a new company. 
  • 7 July 2020: Texas Securities Commission says MTI is a "multilevel marketing get-rich-quick scheme" and provisionally orders it to cease trading in the US state.
  • 19 August 2020: Market regulator the Financial Sector Conduct Authority recommends clients withdraw funds from MTI.
  • 14/15 December: Last time Steynberg's colleagues say they heard from him.
  • 17 December 2020: The FSCA states it believes MTI and its senior management are conducting an "illegal operation". It opens a criminal case with the Hawks.
  • 21 December 2020: MTI's lawyers, Ulrich Roux and Associates, state that Steynberg is no longer in South Africa. They also announce their withdrawal.
  • 29 December 2020: The Western Cape High Court grants a provisional liquidation order against MTI.
  • 1 March 2021: MTI's final liquidation hearing is postponed until late May.
  • 13 April: Steynberg's estate is  provisionally sequestrated. 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot