Police Make 12 Arrests, Seize $1 Million in Cash and $9.8 Million in Assets in JPEX Case
On Tuesday, Hong Kong police announced the arrest of 12 suspects in connection with the JPEX cryptocurrency exchange platform scandal.
During a press conference on Wednesday, Chris Tang Ping-Keung, the Secretary for Security of Hong Kong, reassured the public that the police are fully committed to delivering justice to those affected by the JPEX cryptocurrency exchange fraud.
Tang revealed that 12 arrests have been made so far, and assets totaling 77 million HKD ($9.8 million), including real estate and digital currency, along with over 8 million Hong Kong dollars ($1 million) in cash, have been seized.
Among the arrested individuals are three employees from JPEX Technical Support Company, in addition to YouTubers Chan Wing-yee and Chu Ka-fa.
However, as reported by the South China Morning Post, the total number of arrests has now reached 15.
One of the newly arrested individuals is Chung Wai-hin, a 23-year-old director of the over-the-counter (OTC) cryptocurrency exchange store Money Lupin.
Another is Sheena Leung, an influencer who operates the YouTube channel “sheung-8888” and is a staff member at the OTC cryptocurrency store Unicoin. The third person is a 28-year-old man named Wong.
Police Hunt for JPEX Scandal’s Key Operator as Investigations into Hong Kong’s Largest Crypto Fraud Case Continue
Local media also reported that Tang mentioned the police are actively searching for the key operator in the JPEX scandal, which could be a significant development in resolving the case.
He also emphasized that they are collaborating with the country’s regulator to implement measures aimed at preventing such scams in the future.
“Police are doing their best to locate the whereabouts of the leader of the platform. This is definitely a major factor in their investigation,” Tang said.
Tang mentioned that the crypto exchange, JPEX, was alleged to have run an unlicensed exchange in the country, which eventually defrauded customers of millions of dollars. A total of 2,369 complaints were received by the local police in Hong Kong from victims who had lost their hard-earned funds to the unregulated crypto exchange. The estimated loss was valued at 1.4 billion HK$ ($178 million), making it the largest fraud case in the country.
Hong Kong’s Crypto Landscape Faces Regulatory Challenges Amid False Licensing Claims
The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) stated on September 13, shedding light on the fact that cash-for-crypto stores and social media influencers affiliated with JPEX had made false claims about the platform’s pursuit of a license, even though it had not actually applied.
Chief Executive John Lee Ka-Chiu said on Tuesday that the government agreed with the commission in providing “transparent and clear” information to investors by naming cryptocurrency firms seeking to set up trading services and those that were licensed.
John Lee Ka-chiu said that:
“This clear information will assist investors to make decisions as to what they should do when they consider making an investment.”
“But I must repeat, [investors’] interests will be best protected if they invest on platforms which have been licensed. That means these platforms will be properly regulated, there will be proper risk control and proper standards that they must fulfill.”
The cryptocurrency landscape in Hong Kong continues to be a dynamic and challenging arena for both regulators and aspiring businesses. Recent developments, particularly the news of impending license applications for virtual asset trading platforms, have spurred companies to prioritize compliance and align with regulatory standards.
Security Chief Tang said on Wednesday that the force was working closely with the commission to prevent more cases of fraud by strengthening education on safe trading practices.
As per the commission’s information, only two platforms, HashKey and OSL, have successfully obtained licenses to operate as retail cryptocurrency trading services in Hong Kong. Additionally, four other companies have submitted license applications pending approval, including HKVAX, HKBitEx, Hong Kong BGE, and Victory Fintech Company.