The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has charged Cornelius Johannes Steynberg and his company Mirror Trading International (MTI), with fraud and registration violations.
The South African trading company is the subject of a complaint filed by the CFTC on June 30, 2022, which alleges that Steynberg launched and used MTI to operate a global foreign currency commodity pool worth over $1.7 billion.
In order to take part in the pool, users had to purchase Bitcoin, with no other currencies being accepted for participation in the pool. The complaint alleges this project to be the largest fraudulent scheme involving Bitcoin (BTC) in any CFTC case.
The same complaint also highlights the fraudulent activity that allegedly occurred between May 18, 2018, and March 30, 2021, when Steynberg operated Mirror Trading International as a multi-level marketing scheme. Steynberg used social media and multiple websites to solicit Bitcoin from public members through the global foreign currency commodity pool.
The commodity pool is purported to have traded off-exchange, retail foreign currency on a leveraged basis with users who were not eligible contract participants (ECPs). The defendants allegedly claimed falsely that this trading was done via proprietary trading “bot” or software program.
During this period, Steynberg allegedly accepted at least 29,421 Bitcoin (worth $1.7 billion) to participate in the commodity pool from approximately 23,000 non-ECPs located in the United States and even more found in other parts of the world. This was carried out even though the defendant was not registered as a commodity pool operator as was required.
Steynberg is alleged to have done this both individually and on behalf of Mirror Trading International. All of the Bitcoin that the defendants had taken from the pool members had been improperly appropriated in some way, either directly or indirectly.