Amir and Reis Keiji, the founders of the South African cryptocurrency exchange, disappeared earlier this year after telling investors that their company had been hacked.
Africrypt, one of the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, informed investors of the hack in April, but asked not to report it to the police, saying it would slow down the process of recovering their missing funds. The alleged hack happened when the value of Bitcoin soared to an all-time high.
It has now been revealed that Rais paid £ 95,000 for Vanuatu citizenship in October 2020, and Amir did the same in January, according to documents he saw The keeper…
Reis and Amir, who have not been contacted by investor lawyers for months, now claim to be victims of organized crime.
According to the report, the two brothers, accused of fleeing South Africa with $ 3.6 billion in stolen bitcoins, had acquired citizenship of the Pacific island of Vanuatu a few months earlier. Amir and Reis Keiji, the founders of the South African cryptocurrency exchange, disappeared earlier this year after telling investors that their company had been hacked.
The Guardian reports that since January 2020, 2,000 people have acquired citizenship of Vanuatu, a remote Pacific island with a population of just 300,000. [Stock image]
Talking to Wall Street Magazine Reis said that from an unknown location, he and Amir were forced to flee South Africa after receiving “death threats” from so-called “organized crime syndicates.”
He categorically denied any wrongdoing charges. Reis also claimed that Africypt never had $ 3.6 billion (£ 2.5 billion), telling the newspaper that the shortfall was no more than £ 3.6 million.
The figure was originally reported Bloomberg, which stated that 69,000 coins were missing and estimated their value based on the peak value of bitcoins in April, when the money went missing.
The brothers also promised to cooperate in any future investigations and said they were preparing a dossier that would prove that Africrypt was hacked and that they were stolen.
Several investors hired Hanekom Attorneys, a law firm, to investigate the incident. discovered that the pooled Africrypt funds were withdrawn from local accounts and client wallets where the coins were originally stored, and then passed through toggle switches and mixers – also known as other large Bitcoin pools – a process that seriously complicates any attempt to track money.
“Africrypt employees lost access to server platforms seven days before the alleged breach,” Hanekom’s lawyers told Bloomberg.
The incident was reported to Hawkes, an elite national police force that fights organized crime, economic crime, corruption, and other serious crimes.
Police discovered that the brothers had lost significant assets in the weeks before their disappearance, selling their Lamborghini Huracan, a luxury suite in one of South Africa’s most expensive hotels and a rented seaside apartment in Durban.
Lawyers have also warned cryptocurrency exchanges around the world to keep a close eye on attempts to convert coins.
Reis categorically denies any wrongdoing charges. He also claimed that Africypt never had $ 3.6 billion (£ 2.5 billion), telling the newspaper that the shortfall did not exceed £ 3.6 million. [Stock image]
South Africa’s Financial Supervision Authority is looking into Africrypt but is unable to launch an official investigation into the incident as the cryptocurrency is not considered a legal financial product in the country, Bloomberg reports, citing its head of enforcement Brandon Topham.
However, Gerhard Botha, a Johannesburg-based lawyer representing 58 investors, was able to get an interim liquidation order for the fugitives to investigate.
If the money is not returned, the incident will be the largest loss of cryptocurrency in history.
The Guardian reports that since January 2020, 2,000 people have acquired citizenship of Vanuatu, a remote Pacific island with a population of just 300,000.
The government’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) scheme allows anyone to apply for a passport by paying £ 95,000.
Successful candidates receive not only citizenship of the island, but also visa-free travel to the UK and the EU.
CBI schemes are legal and relatively common in smaller countries, including Malta and Grenada, although some larger countries, such as Austria and Turkey, also have such programs.
According to Investment Migration Insider’s analysis, the CBI scheme generated £ 72 million in Vanuatu – 42 percent of all government revenues in 2020.
Those who acquired Vanuatu citizenship included former Indian politician Vinay Mishra, accused of corruption, disgraced Syrian politician Alaa Ibrahim, and former UN-backed Libyan Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, according to The Guardian’s investigation.
In response to the investigation, the Vanuatu Financial Intelligence Unit promised to conduct rigorous checks on the individuals named in the report.
Director Floyd Merah told the newspaper that individuals with “significant convictions” could be denied citizenship.
“In the future, the FIU will conduct enhanced checks … If any of these persons have a criminal record, the FIU will immediately inform the Citizenship Office of the updated information,” he said.