The management and leaders of Mirror Trading International (MTI) have issued a statement to members saying that they have lost contact with the company’s CEO, Johann Steynberg, and that they are uncertain about the status of the scheme’s funds.
“We as management and leaders do not know if our bitcoin is safe,” MTI stated.
According to the statement, MTI has struggled to obtain bitcoin from its broker with which to pay members’ withdrawals.
MTI also stated that Johann Steynberg is currently in Brazil, and that he bought a return ticket to São Paulo via Doha with his return flight scheduled for 22 December 2020.
FSCA filed criminal charges against MTI
MTI’s statement to members today follows recent news from the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) that it has opened a criminal case against the company.
The FSCA said that MTI and its senior management are conducting an illegal operation, are misleading clients, and have contravened several laws.
It filed the criminal complaint after conducting a simultaneous raid on three locations related to MTI in October — its offices in Stellenbosch, and the homes of two members of its leadership.
Prior to the raid, the FSCA issued a warning in August that people should withdraw their money from the scheme.
In response to requests for comment from MyBroadband, the FSCA disclosed that the case was opened at SAPS Stellenbosch police station on 12 November, and has the case number CAS 245/11/2020.
MTI’s “unregulated broker”
Among the findings published by the FSCA was with regards to the broker MTI claimed to be using.
MTI said that it had moved from using a broker called FXChoice, which is regulated under Belize law, to an “unregulated broker” called Trade300.
The FSCA said that it followed all possible links on the Internet to establish whether Trade300 existed and obtained information that might corroborate MTI’s claims of the large profits the scheme was generating. It could only find one reference to Trade300 — its own website.
“The website was, and still is, ‘under maintenance’, and the only reference linked to the website is the name of ‘Joe Steyn’, a known alias of Steynberg,” said the FSCA.
MTI agrees with FSCA’s Trade300 findings
In its statement to members, MTI said that Johann Steynberg’s wife has confirmed that he uses the alias Joe Steyn “all the time, for everything”.
“Management has been in contact with the broker, Trade300, but now believe this company is potentially owned and operated by Johann Steynberg,” MTI stated.
It added that communication with the broker has been “sparse and unforthcoming”.
“To date of writing this statement the bitcoin requested to honour withdrawals has not been paid out from Trade300 and there is no valid reason for this. Over 34 emails have been sent to Trade300 in the last 6 days to resolve this matter,” MTI said.
FSCA findings vs MTI statement
In a press release issued on 17 December, the FSCA said that its investigation into MTI is nearing completion.
To date, the FSCA said it found that the CEO of MTI, Mr Cornelius Johannes Steynberg, was actively assisted in the operations by Mr Clynton Hugh Marks and Mrs Cheri Marks.
Clynton Marks’ official title within the organisation is head of the referral programme. Cheri Marks is head of communications.
However, the statement issued by MTI today claimed that essentially the only people with control over MTI’s funds were Steynberg and his wife.
MTI’s statement also asserts that Clynton Marks provided 400 bitcoin of his own money — over R137 million — to pay member withdrawals.
“A week after the raid, Johann requested that Clynton Marks give him BTC to pay members that had made withdrawals as the limitation on withdrawals with the broker was still a hinderance,” the statement said.
“Johann agreed to put in 400 BTC as well. Clynton then agreed and paid over 400 BTC of his own outside of MTI to Johann on the 1st, 11th, and 12th of November 2020,” said MTI.
“Management has no proof that Johann did contribute the amount he stated. Clynton Marks had full confidence that he would get his Bitcoin back.”
According to MTI, Steynberg alleged that his wife also gave 200 bitcoin for this process.
“The last time we heard from Johann was Tuesday, 15 December 2020, at 01:51am,” MTI stated.
“The whole management team is co-operating with law enforcement and will continue to do so until this matter is resolved.”
Full MTI statement
The full statement from MTI is embedded below.