Raees Cajee, who founded Africrypt with his brother Ameer, told The Wall Street Journal that less than $5 million (R72 million) was lost when their platform was hacked.
Bloomberg previously reported that the South African brothers have vanished, along with Bitcoin worth $3.6 billion from their cryptocurrency investment platform.
Cajee told The Wall Street Journal Africrypt’s cryptocurrency portfolio was never close to that size.
“At the height of the market, we were managing just over $200 million,” he said, adding that no more than $5 million is unaccounted for.
Raees and Ameer Cajee are currently in hiding, allegedly because they fear for their life.
According to Gerhard Botha, an attorney who represents a group of investors, the current claims against Africrypt total around R140 million ($9.9 million), but this may go up to as high as R500 million ($35 million).
The claims therefore exceed the amount that Cajee said was lost.
Over the last few weeks, details emerged about Africrypt and its founders, which include evidence of a lavish lifestyle.
Africrypt Cryptocurrency Investments was founded in 2019 by Raees and Ameer Cajee, promising returns of around 10% per month.
Two years later, the brothers informed investors that the company was hacked, and all its Bitcoin holdings were stolen.
They also discouraged investors from instituting legal proceedings, saying it would delay the process to get the money back.
Shortly after the hack, the Cajee brothers disappeared along with the billions in Bitcoin they were responsible for.
Darren Hanekom, the founder at Hanekom Attorneys which is investigating Africrypt on behalf of investors, said it is not only Bitcoin that has disappeared. It also extends to swaps into other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum.
“The investigators are not only looking for Bitcoin. They also need to follow suspected conversions into other cryptocurrencies,” he said.
The Financial Sector Conduct Authority said last week that Africrypt “offered exceptionally high and unrealistic returns akin to those offered by unlawful investment schemes commonly known as Ponzi’s”.
“The public is urged to understand that unrealistically high returns suggests that the investment scheme is likely to be fraudulent.”
John Oosthuizen, a lawyer for Raees and Ameer Cajee, told the BBC over the weekend that the brothers “categorically denied” they had been involved in a “heist” or had absconded with funds.
He also suggested the $3.6 billion figure for the missing Bitcoin was an overestimate.
On a surprising twist, the lawyers for the Cajee brothers said yesterday that their mandate to assist them had been terminated.
Moneyweb has now reported that this is not the first time the Cajee brothers had a cryptocurrency business that was hacked.
Before Africrypt was started, in May 2019, the brothers informed investors in another platform they were hacked and lost all emptied Bitcoin.
At the time, they blamed the missing Bitcoin on a breach of their biggest trading partner, Binance.
Hanekom told Moneyweb they have evidence to suggest that the Cajees were acting on behalf of a much bigger international syndicate.
“It is very unlikely that they managed to rope in more than R50 billion from investors. This was a money-laundering operation,” he said.
The mobile phone of Raees that was momentarily switched on Sunday evening was again unreachable at the time of writing.
Reporting with Bloomberg.