Hong Kong’s security minister, Chris Tang Ping-keung, has vowed to apprehend the leader of fraud crimes at crypto exchange JPEX. Police confirmed they were seeking assistance from Interpol in rounding up the leaders of JPEX.
He said that further details could not be disclosed without additional evidence, but that police had contacted several celebrities involved in promoting the platform.
“Police are doing their best to locate the whereabouts of the leader of the platform. This is definitely a major factor in their investigation,” the minister said.
Hong Kong Police Arrest Celebrities Ahead of JPEX Leaders
To date, Hong Kong police have arrested 12 people, including JPEX employees, staff from crypto stores, and online influencers. Among those arrested are YouTubers Chan Wing-yee and Chu Ka-fai, celebrities Julian Cheung Chi-Lam, Jacqueline Ch’ng Se Min, and Clement Chan Ting-bong, and social media influencer Joseph Lam Chok.
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Police also seized $1 million in cash and $9.9 million in real estate and crypto related to the fraud. Early estimates peg JPEX customer losses at around $192 million.
The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) started warning customers about trading on unlicensed exchanges in July last year. Following the JPEX fraud, it advised investors not to believe every exchange’s claim about having applied for a license.
Former Hong Kong SFC Chief Says Regulations Held Up Arrests
The Commission’s former chair, Anthony Neoh, chair has defended the SFC against accusations it acted too slowly.
“The regulation on virtual assets did not come into effect until June 1 this year, so the commission had no legal powers prior to that. The regulator made the judgment with the best information or best intent, and I do not believe they acted in any bad faith.”
So far, only two exchanges, HashKey and OSL, have secured a license after the SFC enforced new rules in June. Applications from four other companies, HKVAX, HKBitEx, Hong Kong BGE, and Victory Fintech Company, are pending approval.
Returning from an official trip to Europe, Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary, Paul Chan Mo-po, said that while the city acknowledges trends around blockchain technology, the government must take action against illegal activities.
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