The founder of the Vancouver-based crypto exchange is nowhere to be found, and users of the platform are owed millions.
On Monday (November 4), the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) took control of the Einstein Exchange days after it said it will be shutting down from a lack of profitability.
Raising concerns, the Einstein Exchange told users recently that it was planning to shut down in 30 to 60 days. Peter Brady, executive director of the BCSC, told CBC that the exchange’s legal counsel subsequently ended its working relationship with the firm.
The Vancouver, British Columbia-based crypto exchange owes its investors C$16 million.
Along with numerous reports of customers being unable to access their funds, the BCSC stated that a former employee had suspected possible money laundering activities by the firm. The BCSC has appointed Grant Thornton as interim receiver.
Einstein Exchange Founder Michael Ongun Gokturk couldn’t be reached by authorities, similar to QuadrigaCX’s CEO, who reportedly died earlier this year, leaving that exchange’s users without access to C$190 million.
When Sammy Wu, an investigator for the BCSC, tried to enter the Einstein Exchange office building, he discovered the elevator was locked for all floors.
In mid-October, Gokturk was sued by tech entrepreneur Scott Nelson after Nelson failed to receive funds following the transfer of 50 bitcoin, worth C$535,000, CBC said.
Nelson reported that Gokturk blamed technical difficulties for not wiring the funds. He later claimed that Gokturk said he would provide a bank draft, but that never transpired either.
This is not the first time that the Einstein Exchange has come under scrutiny. In January 2018, CBC reported that some customers were calling the exchange a “scam,” while others said that it took three weeks to hear back from one of the 21 employees working at the exchange.
Gokturk claimed an overwhelming surge of new customers was behind the exchange’s slowness in response. “It was just madness,” he said at the time.
As the Einstein Exchange enters receivership, other news on defunct crypto exchanges is unfolding.
In October, Jennifer Robertson, the widow of scandal-ridden QuadrigaCX CEO Gerald Cotten, said she will be transferring C$12 million to EY, the bankruptcy trustee for the exchange.
“As a result of the Monitor’s investigation, I have agreed to return to QCX assets that I had previously thought were purchased with Gerry’s legitimately earned profits, salary and dividends,” Robertson said in a statement. “I was upset and disappointed with Gerry’s activities as uncovered by the investigation when I first learned of them, and continue to be as we conclude this settlement.”
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Securities Disclosure: I, Dorothy Neufeld, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.