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SA leader of bitcoin Ponzi scheme arrested in Brazil for false identity

MIT chief executive Johann Steynberg was arrested in Brazil. Picture: File

MIT chief executive Johann Steynberg was arrested in Brazil. Picture: File

Published Jan 11, 2022


THE chief executive of Mirror Trading International (MTI) Johann Steynberg was arrested in Goiânia, Brazil, for being implicated in a Ponzi scheme through bitcoin (BTC). Brazilian police said he was caught on December 30, 2021.

The police said after an intense work of identification and monitoring, along with the help of information provided by the Federal Police of Brazil, it was possible to approach Steynberg, who at the time was presenting a false identity.

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According to Brazilian authorities, Steynberg had two fake IDs, two laptops, a cellphone, and six credit cards. In a statement by Goiás military police, Steynberg was presented to the police to fulfil the international arrest warrant and fine for the crime of using a false document.

MTI started operations in 2019 as a broker called FXChoice and only after one year, the company claimed that the platform had registered 260 000 across the globe and handled 23 000 BTC worth over R11 billion.

In 2020 the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), a financial institutions market conduct regulator and a successor agency, uncovered alleged fraudulent activity at the firm.

According to the agency, MTI was trading without a license and moved to crypto trading under the name Trade300 because a license is not required.

The FSCA said the company did not keep accounting records for a list of registered participants, apart from 170 000 unique email addresses found during the raid.

Following the probe by the FSCA, MIT’s firm’s management reported in a telegram letter that Steynberg might have fled to Brazil.

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The firm had amassed global membership when the US based Texas State Securities Board issued a cease-and-desist order against it.


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