The alleged founder and CEO of Mirror Trading International (MTI), Johann Steynberg, has been provisionally sequestrated in the Polokwane High Court.
The court order, which MyBroadband has seen, was handed down by Judge President Ephraim Makgoba on 13 April after the provisional liquidators of MTI applied for Steynberg to be sequestrated.
Steynberg and his wife Nerina were named as the respondents, but Steynberg is the only subject of the order.
Anyone who wants to oppose the sequestration have until 20 July 2021 to provide reasons why the provisional sequestration order should not be made permanent.
MTI is currently under provisional liquidation. The hearing to decide whether MTI’s provisional liquidation order should be made final is set for 31 May.
The provisional sequestration order for Johann Steynberg follows news that two of the key people involved in MTI — Clynton and Cheri Marks — have received a high court summons as part of a R2.5 million claim against them for a different Bitcoin investment scam called BTC Global.
Clynton Marks is a 50% shareholder of MTI. His partner, Cheri Marks, was the head of communications and marketing.
Mirror Trading International was a scheme that claimed to offer automated trading services — initially in forex, and later in cryptocurrency derivatives.
Chainalysis declared MTI the biggest cryptocurrency scam of 2020 in its latest Crypto Crime Report, released earlier this year.
The scheme went through a few iterations, but its surge in growth came after it adopted a multilevel marketing referral system and switched away from more conventional “copy trading” to purportedly using an automated trading program, or “bot”.
MTI and its leadership claimed that this magical “bot” was powered by artificial intelligence and was yielding growth in members’ bitcoin of 0.5% to 1.5% per day.
Many people warned that the promised returns were too good to be true and that MTI was at best unsustainable, and at worst a pyramid scheme using the money of new entrants in the scheme to pay the people at the top of the multilevel referral network.
In September, MyBroadband reported on a group calling itself Anonymous ZA which leaked an anonymised copy of MTI’s entire database — including account names, e-mail addresses and bitcoin balances. They called it the MTILeaks.
The MTILeaks showed that as of 14 September 2020, MTI had received 22,984 bitcoin in deposits.
At the time of the leak this was worth close to R4.2 billion. At current exchange rates this amount of bitcoin is worth around R13 billion.
Anonymous ZA warned that there was no trading bot that could generate the returns necessary to make MTI sustainable.
The MTILeaks also revealed that it was Clynton Marks who was at the top of the MTI multilevel marketing structure and not Johann Steynberg.
MTI collapsed in late 2020, with the scheme’s leadership blaming Johann Steynberg, who allegedly disappeared in Brazil on 15 December.
Steynberg last communicated with MTI members from Brazil and he is currently suspected to be in Panama, though his whereabouts are unknown.
MyBroadband contacted Johann and Nerina Steynberg for comment and they did not respond by the time of publication.