In a significant development, victims of the Mirror Trading International (MTI) bitcoin scam in South Africa are on the brink of receiving refunds from the liquidators overseeing the case. The process, however, awaits a court ruling to determine how the claims should be handled, including evaluating the refunds, considering victims invested in bitcoin with fluctuating values.
Key Court Decisions Pending
- Handling Bitcoin Valuation: One of the court’s primary tasks is to address the challenge of evaluating bitcoin refunds, given the varying values at the time of investment and when the scam was exposed.
- Refund Percentage: Reports suggest victims might receive between 50% to 60% of their investment back. However, the liquidators emphasized that the actual amount will depend on the final number of claimants.
MTI: A Historic Scam
- Bitcoin Inflow: MTI is believed to have received between 29,421 to 46,000 bitcoins, marking it as one of the most massive scams globally in 2020.
- Valuation: At the current bitcoin price, MTI is valued at approximately R15.3 billion ($784 million).
Claimant Statistics and Dividend Estimations
- Claimant Numbers: The liquidators have received 7,903 claims thus far, but they anticipate not all 15,000 investors will submit claims.
- Dividend Estimate: The expected dividend was initially estimated between 50c ($0.084) to 60c ($0.10) in the Rand, subject to change as more claims are processed.
- Recovery Efforts: Liquidators recovered 1,281 bitcoins frozen by FXChoice, former MTI’s brokerage, selling them on Luno for approximately R1.1 billion ($56.3 million).
MTI CEO and Legal Implications
- Johannes Steynberg: The CEO of MTI, Johannes Steynberg, went missing in December 2020. He was located in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in December 2021 and is currently under preventative detention.
- Legal Proceedings: Steynberg was found guilty in Brazil in August 2023, facing extradition proceedings. A US court had earlier ordered him to pay over $1.7 billion in restitution and an additional civil monetary penalty of over $1.7 billion.
The MTI case unfolds as a pivotal chapter in South Africa’s financial history, with victims poised for potential relief through the pending court decisions and subsequent refund process.
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