Members of massive Mirror Trading International pyramid scheme slapped with summons

The liquidators of Mirror Trading International (MTI) have confirmed that they are issuing summons against some members of the pyramid scheme and provided an update on plans to pay back victims.

Former members of MTI have reported in online discussion groups that they received summons claiming they were net winners in the unlawful scheme and had to pay back their ill-gotten gains.

However, some of the summons were issued before Acting Justice Alan Maher’s November 2023 court ruling that set out the formulas the liquidators should use to calculate investors’ gains and losses.

MTI was a bitcoin-based pyramid and Ponzi-type scheme, and the liquidators had asked the court for clarity about how to convert bitcoins to rands to claw back funds and pay back victims of the scheme.

In brief, Justice Maher’s ruling stated that the liquidators should calculate an investment’s rand value on the day the bitcoin was deposited into the scheme.

They must then subtract any withdrawals, converting bitcoin to rands on the withdrawal date.

Some investors who received summons said the liquidators used a different method of calculating how much they owed than the judge stipulated, raising questions about why they issued the summons before the ruling.

This caused speculation that the liquidators couldn’t wait for the ruling any longer because there was a danger that members who made money off MTI could have their debts prescribed.

Prescription is South Africa’s statute of limitations on debt collections.

Broadly, this stipulates that creditors can’t collect debts after three years from when they became due — unless certain conditions are met.

One of the things creditors can do to interrupt the prescription period is get debtors to acknowledge their debt or serve them with a summons.

MTI was put into provisional liquidation on 29 December 2020, and Acting Justice Alma De Wet granted a final liquidation order against the scheme on 30 June 2021.

MyBroadband asked the liquidators about this, and they provided the following statement confirming the theory that they began issuing summons to avoid prescription:

Summonses were issued and are still being issued continuously to recover claims which the liquidators have against certain investors in terms of the provisions of the Insolvency Law.

The issuing of these summonses is dealt with as a matter of priority in order to ensure that these claims do not become prescribed.

The issue of the precise date by which claims will become prescribed is a complex one with no clear and definite answer.

In order to prevent the risk of prescription, the liquidators have instructed their panel of attorneys to proceed with legal action as a matter of priority.

MTI

In addition, the liquidators sent a circular to creditors on Friday, updating them on the status of claims.

“The seventh Special meeting has been convened for 26 January, 2024. Claims 6,267 to 7,267 are being tabled for this meeting,” they said.

The liquidators said they are finalising the schedule for the eighth special meeting, which will cover claims 7,268 to 8,268.

“Claims received, printed, and registered up to 19 January 2024 total 8,550.”

The liquidators explained that claims can only be paid once the second liquidation and distribution account is finalised and lodged with the Master of the Court.

“If there are no objections to the account, the Master, at its discretion, confirms the account, after which dividends can be paid,” they said.

They said the soonest they could indicate how long this would take is the end of February.

However, they might only be able to give an estimated completion date at the end of March 2024.

“Once the liquidators can set a date for the Second liquidation and distribution account to be lodged, further communications will be circulated to all proven creditors,” they said.

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Members of massive Mirror Trading International pyramid scheme slapped with summons