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[加拿大新聞] B.C. cryptocurrency exchange shuts amid questions, complaints and lawsuits

Securities commission says RCMP notified about possible money-laundering concerns at Einstein Exchange

Jason Proctor · CBC News · Posted: Nov 04, 2019 12:12 PM PT | Last Updated: 29 minutes ago



The B.C. Securities Commission says it has been unable to reach Einstein Exchange founder Michael Gokturk amid concerns about his cryptocurrency exchange. (Tristan Le Rudulier/CBC)[size=0.625]2

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Under a cloud of complaints, investigations and lawsuits, a controversial Vancouver cryptocurrency exchange has shut its doors with more than $16 million owing to customers.

The B.C. Securities Commission (BCSC) obtained an order last week appointing an interim receiver to oversee the Einstein Exchange after filing a petition in B.C. Supreme Court claiming exchange founder Michael Ongun Gokturk could not be reached.

BCSC executive director Peter Brady told CBC News the commission has also notified RCMP of concerns about possible money laundering shared by a former exchange employee.




"We received a number of complaints from customers of the exchange being unable to access their assets. We had sent some requests for information to the exchange twice and we didn't get an answer," said Brady.

"We were then talking to the company's counsel and learned that the exchange intended to shut down within 30 to 60 days due to a lack of profit and subsequently that legal counsel stepped down, so that raised concerns for us."


'No one will lose their money'

According to court documents, counsel for Einstein Exchange also initially claimed the company "had sufficient crypto assets to satisfy withdrawal requests from customers that have made deposits."

But the BCSC claimed counsel refused to provide information about the location of those assets.

The business offices closed on Nov. 1 and Gokturk has gone dark. Brady could not say if the receiver had been able to reach him since being appointed last week.



The Einstein Exchange has shut its doors amid numerous complaints and concerns raised to the B.C. Securities Commission about money laundering. (Yvette Brend/CBC)

Gokturk spoke to the CBC in January 2018 about a storm of online criticism that accompanied the opening of the exchange. Customers claimed that staff were slow to respond and expressed fear they might lose their money.




At that time, Gokturk claimed his team was overwhelmed by response and demand for digital currency and promised that "no one will lose their money here."


The company's website has been taken down but the Einstein Exchange Facebook page is still online. The page features many posts from customers demanding their money and warning others about problems.

The company also warned its customers about posting their information online because "we have been receiving many complaints that scammers have been targeting Einstein customers who have posted their account emails publicly."

Civil lawsuits

Brady said the former exchange employee expressed concerns about the possibility of money laundering and the way that the company was doing business.

Brady said the BCSC doesn't investigate money laundering, but has shared those concerns with the RCMP.



Staff on the floor of the Einstein Exchange in Vancouver during a visit by CBC News in January 2018. The exchange has closed its doors and founder Michael Gokturk could not be reached. (Tristan Le Rudulier/CBC)

In addition to multiple customer complaints, the Einstein Exchange is also facing a pair of civil suits filed last month in relation to the transfer of cryptocurrency.

Hong Kong-based Sino Allied filed a notice of civil claim claiming it was still owed $1 million US after Einstein agreed to buy a form of currency named Tether.

And two weeks ago, Vancouver technology entrepreneur Scott Nelson sued Gokturk after claiming he had transferred 50 Bitcoin — equivalent to $535,000 — without receiving any money in return.

Nelson claimed Gokturk told him he would wire the money, but "repeatedly blamed technical issues for the failure." Nelson said Gokturk then told him he would give him a bank draft, but none was ever delivered.

Gokturk has not filed responses to either of those lawsuits.


A default judgment was also issued last April against Gokturk and Einstein Exchange in relation to $116,789.62 owed on an Amex credit card.

The CBC was unable to reach Gokturk for comment.

Brady said the BCSC has warned investors to exercise caution when dealing with platforms that deal in cryptoassets because they tend to be higher risk.


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