South Africa’s Bitcoin brothers “stole from the wrong guy”

Raees and Ameer Cajee, the brothers who founded Africrypt, are on the run because they apparently took money from the wrong man.

“They stole from the wrong guy. There is nowhere on Earth they can hide,” a source with intimate knowledge of the colourful characters in South Africa’s underground told MyBroadband.

The man in question is Juan Meyer, a former business associate of Czech gangster Radovan Krejcir, who amaBhungane described as “a West Rand gold smuggler and illegal refinery owner”.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that there is no way you steal Meyer’s money and get away with it for long.

“This is a man who took on Krejcir for years before it was cool,” they said, referring to the breakdown in the business relationship between the two after Meyer was arrested in Sandton in May 2010 while transporting R20-million in gold.

The gold was due for shipment to Hong Kong, Mail & Guardian reported.

In a 10-page affidavit, Meyer stated that Krejcir had set him up. He also implicated Krejcir in criminal dealings, including the bribery of the head of Gauteng crime intelligence. Krejcir denied the allegations.

Meyer’s connection to Africrypt became public because he launched the application to liquidate the company on 19 April 2021.

He filed the application on behalf of his company, Badaspex (Pty) Ltd, for R41 million.

The application contains claims from several other scorned Africrypt clients to the tune of R25,876,772.50.

A provisional liquidation order was granted on 26 April despite the Cajees’ attempt to oppose it.

Africrypt Cajee brothers
Cajee brothers standing in front of an Africrypt-branded van

According to Meyer’s application, his relationship with Africrypt dates back to September 2020 where he met with Raees Cajee and the man who introduced him to the company.

Meyer said that on 26 October 2020, he signed an agreement to invest a minimum of R100,000 with Africrypt.

Between November and December 2020, he made rand deposits to the value of R13.4 million and also transferred bitcoin to the value of R23.7 million.

According to the court papers, Meyer withdrew a total of R4.3 million out of the scheme before it collapsed.

On 13 April 2021, a letter signed by Ameer Cajee told Africrypt clients that the platform had been hacked and their funds lost.

Cajee advised clients against opting for the “legal route”, saying it would only frustrate Africrypt’s attempts to recover the funds.

Neither of the two brothers was seen since, and only recently did they make contact with certain members of the press.

Raees Cajee told The Wall Street Journal that they had fled because their lives were threatened.

“We dealt with a lot of high-level South Africans, a lot of politicians, a lot of high-level businessmen within South Africa, as well as celebrities,” Raees Cajee told the publication.

“Some particularly very, very dangerous people—that we had not actually known were clients—have started to come out of the cracks.”

Raees and Ameer Cajee
Raees and Ameer Cajee

Meyer has, through his attorney, denied that the threats came from him, ITWeb reported.

According to Meyer, he went to the Houghton Hotel on 8 April 2021 after he was informed that Ameer Cajee was a guest there.

He said that Cajee kept him waiting for 15 minutes outside his rented penthouse, at which point hotel security approached him and escorted him from the premises.

This was after the Africrypt online client portal went offline on 6 April. Meyer said he had not received any communication from the Cajees or anyone else about a withdrawal he had requested.

He said that he received several promises that his money would be paid back until the alleged hack.

After one last email from Ameer Cajee on the evening of 14 April, Meyer said he didn’t hear from either of the brothers again.

“It shows you — you might be good with tech, charismatic, and very smart, but if you don’t at least Google your prospective clients you’re setting yourself up for a world of hurt,” MyBroadband’s source said.

They added that the brothers are just going to make matters worse if they keep running.

“They should turn around and come home. Even if they are in the UK, there is nowhere they can hide.”

Old Africrypt office
Old Africrypt office

The Cajees have denied that they stole the money and maintain that they were a victim of an attack on Africrypt’s systems.

Raees Cajee has also said that less than $5 million (R72 million) was lost when their platform was hacked — much less than the $3.6 billion (R51 billion) that was previously reported.

“At the height of the market, we were managing just over $200 million,” he said.

This is much less than Cajee once boasted about, one investor told MyBroadband. According to the investor, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Cajee once claimed that they were managing assets worth over $700 million.

According to Gerhard Botha, the attorney who represents Meyer and a group of other 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) when all the claims are in.

The claims therefore exceed the amount that Cajee said was lost.

MyBroadband contacted Meyer, his attorney, and the Cajees for comment. None of them responded to our requests.

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South Africa’s Bitcoin brothers “stole from the wrong guy”