On 27 April, the Commodities and Futures Commission announced that they have won a record-breaking $3.4 billion case related to a fraudulent scheme involving Bitcoin. According to reports, this is the highest civil penalty awarded in the history of CFTC cases.
The statement released by CFTC on 27th April said that Texas District Court Judge Lee Yeakel ordered Cornelius Johannes Steynberg of Stellenbosch, Western Cape, Republic of South Africa to pay the amount. According to the order passed by the Texas District Court, Steynberg is required to pay $1,733,838,372 in restitution to defrauded victims and a $1,733,838,372 civil monetary penalty. For those who are not aware, it’s the highest civil monetary penalty ordered in any CFTC case.
In June 2022, the CFTC filed a case against the South African crypto exchange Mirror Trading International (MTI) and its CEO Johann Steynberg. The Commodities and Futures Commission accused the MTI and Steynberg of stealing almost all the bitcoin it accepted from members. According to the case filed by CFTC, MTI stole almost all the 29 421 Bitcoins it accepted from users, and operated as a fraudulent scheme. At the time of covid outbreak, the MIT took limelight and attracted several participants and finally, it collapsed in December 2020.
While the case is pending, Steynberg individually and as the principal and agent of Mirror Trading International, accepted at least 29,421 Bitcoin worth $1,733,838,372 at the end of March 2021 which was drained from at least 23,000 individuals in the U.S. Also, operated throughout the world, to participate in the commodity pool without being registered as a CPO as required.
With the rise of the digital assets sector, the danger of potential fraud always remained high. However, authorities and regulatory bodies are trying to make this sector more secure to perform. The verdict of the Steynberg case will send a strong message to the fraudsters who are involved in these Ponzi schemes.