Canada’s regulators have shut down Einstein Exchange amid numerous complaints from customers and a potential money-laundering investigation. The Vancouver-based crypto exchange is said to also owe over $16 million to its clients.
According to the latest press statement from the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC), it initially filed a petition with the British Columbia Supreme Court after ascertaining that Einstein Exchange founder Michael Ongun Gokturk couldn’t be reached The commission then secured an order from the court to appoint a temporary receiver to manage the exchange platform.
Gran Thorn Limited
Audit firm Grant Thorton Limited was tapped to act as the interim receiver as of Nov. 1. The company reportedly secured the office of Einstein Exchange that same day.
The BCSC claimed it had no choice but to take legal steps and close the crypto exchange after receiving complaints that customers couldn’t access their digital assets on Einstein. Peter Brady, the Executive Director of the BCSC, said that they had already requested the exchange platform for more information twice but didn’t get any reply.
Brady also revealed that they informed the RCMP of reports that the exchange could be laundering money. A former Einstein employee raised the concern previously.
The regulating agency was said to have also received a message from a lawyer allegedly representing the company who said Einstein Exchange “planned to shut down” within one to two months because of the lack of profit. That same lawyer reportedly stepped down later, further raising the BCSC’s concerns.
Einstein Exchange claimed in court documents that their crypto assets are enough to cover their customers’ withdrawal requests. However, the company’s legal counsel refused to share with the BCSC the location of said assets.
Sammy Wu on the Topic
Sammy Wu, a BCSC investigator, told CBC News that the exchange could’ve utilized its clients’ assets improperly while owing them over $16.3 million. The amount reportedly breaks down to $11 million in crypto and around $5 million in cash.
Wu also shared that he visited the offices of Einstein Exchange last week and found the elevator locked for every floor. All phone numbers listed in the company’s names, like that of its agents and Gokturk, was no longer in service.
The investigator said that he called Gokturk on the number listed on the company’s website but the recording said all the agents were unavailable. The same thing happened when Wu tried Gokturk’s voicemail.
The BCSC reiterated that it hasn’t authorized any cryptocurrency asset trading platforms to work as an exchange. The agency also reminded investors to be more cautious when investing in digital currencies.