In an unexpected turn of events, the management team at Mirror Trading International (MTI) now suggest that their CEO Johann Steynberg may have exit scammed.
The team alleges that Steynberg, now believed to be in Brazil, has locked out key management staff from accessing MTI’s account with a local bank.
Additionally, management now appears to confirm earlier allegations that bitcoin withdrawal requests are not being honoured despite previously refuting this.
Status of Investors’ BTC Unknown
The last-minute revelations by MTI management appear to buttress the findings of an investigation by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), South Africa’s financial services regulator.
In its update on the MTI probe, the FSCA said it uncovered losses that were not previously reported as well as bitcoins that cannot be accounted for. The FSCA says the investigation also found evidence suggesting that MTI’s broker, Trade 300 is linked to Steynberg.
Interestingly, MTI management now believes that Trade 300 “is potentially owned and operated by Johann Steynberg.” The statement also adds that “communication with this broker has been sparse and unforthcoming.”
Meanwhile, in the seven paged “MTI critical statement”, the management team chronicles the chain of events that followed the FSCA’s raid on the residences of the bitcoin trading company’s top executives in late October.
The document starts by explaining the steps that Steynberg allegedly took after the raid and how such measures were meant to safeguard investors’ bitcoins. The statement says:
Johann told us that when the FSCA took all the electronic devices, a security protocol was put in place with the broker to avoid all our member bitcoin being stolen, this included a limitation of withdrawals. This was communicated to all members on managements’ insistence.
Next, the MTI statement states that the CEO then requested Clynton Marks – a member of the MTI management team – for 400 BTC “to pay members that had made withdrawals as the limitation on withdrawals with the broker was still a hindrance.”
The statement claims that Marks agreed and transferred the BTC to the CEO but management “has no proof that Johann did contribute the amount stated.” Marks, who reportedly used his personal BTC, carried out three transfers between November 1 and 12.
Later on November 30, Steynberg “received” an email from an anonymous source warning him of an imminent raid by the FSCA, again. In the email, the anonymous sender thanks Steynberg “for everything you do for humanity” before urging him to skip the country for his own safety.
Using this email as justification, the CEO apparently left South Africa on or after December 2 and left his wife to manage his affairs in his absence.
Later, the MTI management team members, who were uncomfortable with the CEO’s arrangement, threatened not to work with Steynberg unless he conceded to their demand “to appoint a proper second in charge that could run the system in his absence.”
Still, Steynberg reportedly refused as he insisted that his wife “Nerina is his 2IC” and the MTI team seemingly relented. Nevertheless, starting on December 15, Steynberg ceased communicating with MTI management.
Since uncovering the “terrible situation” the MTI team claims it has been trying to recover investors’ BTC that cannot be accessed.
A private investigator has since been hired to trace Steynberg and the team adds it will be working with law enforcement “until this matter is resolved.”