The founders of South African cryptocurrency investment platform Africrypt have disappeared along with $3.6 billion (R51.4 billion) worth of Bitcoin, according to a report.
On 23 June, Bloomberg reported that Cape Town law firm, Hanekom Attorneys, could not locate Ameer and Raees Cajee after they told investors the company had allegedly been hacked.
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Calls to the Cajee brothers went unanswered and the company’s website is down, the publication noted.
Hanekom Attorneys said it had reported the matter to the Hawks and notified other exchanges worldwide in case someone tried to convert the coins.
If proven to be a scam, the incident would represent the biggest dollar loss in cryptocurrency history.
What happened to Africrypt?
In April, Ameer Cajee informed investors that Africrypt had been the victim of hack. Cajee allegedly also told investors not to report the incident to authorities as it would slow down attempts to recover the funds.
Several sceptical investors then called Hanekom Attorneys while another group commenced liquidation proceedings against Africrypt.
During its investigation, Hanekom Attorneys said that it found company employees had lost access to back-end platforms seven days before the alleged hack.
It also said the Africrypt funds were transferred from accounts and client wallets to larger Bitcoin pools and put through tumblers and mixers. The process makes the coins difficult to trace.
The Cajee brothers founded Africrypt in 2019. The company said it offered bumper returns for investors.
While the Finance Sector Conduct Authority is looking into the company, it is prohibited from launching a formal investigation. According to South African law, cryptocurrency assets are not considered financial products.
The incident comes as countries have taken steps to regulate cryptocurrencies. Nigeria banned its financial institutions from making crypto transactions while China has moved to close mining platforms in several of its provinces.
Earlier this month, El Salvador approved legislation that recognises Bitcoin as legal tender.
Featured image: Unsplash/Dmitry Demidko