Following what victims allege to be one of the largest bitcoin scams of all time, with claims that more than $2.3 billion in bitcoin was stolen, one of the accused has resurfaced to profess innocence.
Last week, news reports indicated that the founders of South African cryptocurrency investment platform Africrypt had absconded with 69,000 BTC belonging to clients, leveraging mixing services to obscure the crime and going into hiding. Now, one of the founders has spoken with The Wall Street Journal to push back on those allegations, claiming Africrypt never even had access to that amount of client funds.
“At the height of the market, we were managing just over $200 million,” Raees Cajee, a 21-year-old cofounder of Africrypt, told the Journal from an undisclosed location.
He added that the firm, which he founded with his 18-year-old brother Ameer Cajee, had only lost $5 million in user funds, which they have blamed on a hack. He told the Journal that they were in hiding because they had received death threats.
“We dealt with a lot of high-level South Africans, a lot of politicians, a lot of high-level businessmen within South Africa, as well as celebrities,” he said. “Some particularly very, very dangerous people — that we had not actually known were clients — have started to come out of the cracks.”
At least one lawyer hired by Africrypt investors who lost their money believes that Africrypt or a connected group controlled a blockchain address that once held $3.6 billion, despite Cajee’s claim.
The brothers plan to return to South Africa for a July 19 court date regarding a liquidation proceeding initiated by a group of investors in Africrypt, who are seeking to recoup their money.