In the wake of the QuadrigaCX imbroglio, two more Canadian crypto exchanges are under investigation. Regulators are investigating numerous complaints and it appears that the owner of at least one of the exchanges has disappeared, taking users’ funds with them.
Crypto exchange boss missing
The British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) has taken action to protect the customers of two Vancouver-based crypto exchanges, Einstein Exchange and ezBtc.
The websites for both have recently gone dark leaving customers fearing for their digital assets.
According to reports, users of the ezBtc exchange have not been able to access their digital assets for at least two months.
The BCSC’s mandate does not typically extend to crypto exchanges so the move was unexpected. It has been the first public announcement of an exchange investigation by the regulator.
“BCSC’s policy is not to comment on the existence of an investigation, but has determined it is in the public interest to do so in this case,” a spokesperson for the agency said.
“Customer assets are at risk. Anyone who invested through ezBtc should consider consulting a lawyer about their options for retrieving their money.”
Earlier reports indicate that ezBtc has been accused of owing millions of dollars while its founder, David Smillie, could not be reached as his mobile and email services have been deactivated.
Local media outlet The Tyee investigated four lawsuits launched by ezBtc users earlier this year.
Other clients also claimed to be owed thousands of dollars and two of Smillie’s former business associates are also suing him, alleging that he owes them 4,700 Bitcoins – worth more than US$43.7 million [AU$63.3 million] at current prices.
All attempts to locate Smillie have been in vain.
The BCSC added that no crypto-asset trading platforms have been authorized to operate and they could be subject to action if violations occur.
Further investigations into Canadian exchanges
In a related press release, the Canadian regulator announced that it was also investigating Einstein Exchange in order to protect its clients.
Last week the BCSC applied to the Supreme Court of British Columbia for an order appointing an interim receiver to preserve and protect any assets on the troubled exchange.
The Commission appointed Grant Thornton Limited, a leading Canadian accounting and business advisory firm, as interim receiver.
A number of complaints had been received and the exchange announced on October 31 that it was planning to shut down within 30 to 60 days due to a lack of profit.
The following day Grant Thornton representatives entered the premises.
Like ezBtc, the owner of the Einstein Exchange, Michael Ongun Gokturk, has seemingly disappeared and is not returning phone calls or text messages.
It has not been revealed whether any assets have been seized but those affected have been advised to contact the advisory firm.
An affidavit posted on Grant Thornton’s website states that Einstein owes its customers approximately $16.3 million in cryptocurrencies and fiat.
Recent estimates claim that roughly 76,000 users have come forward to claim they are owed around $215 million in cash and cryptocurrency.