In a landmark ruling, Cornelius Johannes Steynberg, the founder of Mirror Trading International, has been mandated to pay a staggering $3.4 billion in damages and penalties after a U.S. court ruled the firm engaged in a multilevel marketing scam involving bitcoin.
This unprecedented penalty stands as the largest civil monetary fine ever imposed in a case brought forth by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
The South African entrepreneur faced the wrath of the U.S. justice system after it was concluded that his enterprise had actively deceived the general public by soliciting Bitcoin for their fraudulent scheme.
Judge Lee Yeakel of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas issued the ruling, which determined that Steynberg had engaged in fraudulent activities related to retail foreign-currency transactions, among other transgressions.
Background of the Story
Mirror Trading International (MTI) rose to prominence under the leadership of South African entrepreneur Cornelius Johannes Steynberg. The company’s rapid ascent was fueled by its promise to deliver lucrative returns on bitcoin investments through a sophisticated trading algorithm. Attracted by the prospect of high profits, thousands of investors entrusted their hard-earned money to the firm.
Between May 2018 and March 2021, Steynberg, both personally and in his capacity as the dominant figure within MTI, orchestrated a widespread international fraud in the form of a multilevel marketing scheme. As per the CFTC, he leveraged social media platforms to entice the public into investing their bitcoin in a commodity pool managed by MTI.
However, the facade began to crumble as investigators delved deeper into MTI’s operations. They discovered that, instead of using an advanced trading algorithm, the company was orchestrating a classic multilevel marketing scheme like a pool.
The pool allegedly engaged in off-exchange, retail forex trading using leverage, margin, and financing through a proprietary software program.
Although the CFTC imposed a record-breaking monetary penalty on Steynberg, they cautioned that orders mandating the payment to victims may not result in the recovery of lost funds, as wrongdoers may not possess sufficient cash or assets.
In conclusion, the Cornelius J. Steynberg case serves as a stark reminder of the potential risks and consequences associated with fraudulent schemes in the world of cryptocurrency. The record-breaking $3.4 billion penalty imposed by the CFTC not only emphasizes the gravity of Steynberg’s actions but also showcases the commitment of regulatory authorities to hold accountable those who engage in deceptive practices.