Police in Hong Kong and Macau have made four additional arrests in connection with the ongoing JPEX crypto exchange probe, bringing the total number of detentions to 18. Two arrests were made in Hong Kong, while the other two were carried out by Macau Police. The individuals arrested are believed to have close ties to the core operations of the exchange.
These developments coincide with a warning from the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) about another unlicensed virtual asset trading platform, FUBT Exchange, which is suspected of being related to JPEX. The SFC stated that FUBT Exchange provided a fake Hong Kong phone number to create the illusion of a presence in the city.
In Macau, two 29-year-olds were detained, and authorities confiscated HK$6.5 million (US$830,390) in cash and valuables, with an additional HK$8.2 million frozen in their casino accounts. Hong Kong police arrested two 28-year-old men, one of whom was found in an apartment with documents that appeared to have been shredded and treated with bleach in a bathtub.
The JPEX scandal began when the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) accused the exchange of operating without a license. It was subsequently revealed that JPEX and its operators were suspected of defrauding over 2,400 people of nearly $200 million.
As a result of the ongoing investigation, authorities have seized assets totaling HK$24 million, including luxury watches, gold bars, and cryptocurrency valued at HK$5 million associated with JPEX. However, tracking down the digital assets has proven challenging due to the high volume of transactions and their inherent anonymity.
While JPEX claims to be based in Dubai and continues to operate, access from Hong Kong has been restricted, believed to be due to a directive from the police. The regulatory body has released a list of exchange firms that have applied for a license under the new regulatory framework implemented in June.