The liquidators for Cryptopia – the local crypto-exchange that collapsed in May last year shortly after hackers stole some $30 million in virtual currency – are wheeling out the heavy artillery.
In their third report, David Ruscoe and Russell Moore say they will shortly issue further section 261 notices under the Companies Act, “requiring various parties to provide information to assist us in our investigation into the financial failure of the company”.
Failure to comply with a section 261 notice can result in a $50,000 fine or a jail term of up to two years.
The liquidators say they have increased their focus on “investigating the affairs of the company and its directors, officers and other parties prior to the liquidation”.
Cryptopia was rife with faction fighting, according to co-founder Adam Clark, who told the Herald, “It was like Game of Thrones.”
The Grant Thornton duo won’t give any details of which line of inquiry they are pursuing from this colourful period. However, saying to do so could prejudice any proceedings taken at a later date.
However, a veteran liquidator told the Herald that the language of the report suggested non-compliance with earlier section 261 notices. Gloves were being taken off.
And Ruscoe and Moore hint at the general direction of their inquiries in their third report, writing, “If any insolvent transactions or breaches of legislation have occurred, we will take the appropriate action where it has the potential to increase the recovery available to creditors.”
Elsewhere, the report’s main message to Cryptopia’s 900,000 account holders is: Please be patient.
The last major development came in April, when a High Court judge delivered the landmark ruling that cryptocurrency must be recognised as property.
That followed Ruscoe and Moore approaching the court in February and asking for guidance on how to distribute some $170m in virtual currency.
The key issue for the court was whether the digital assets were held on trust for some 800,000 account holders with a positive coin balance, or should go into the general pool for creditors who are owed $12.7m (including IRD, owed around $5m).
The judge ruled in favour of the account holders, but there is still no timeline for when they might regain access to their funds.
The central hold up remains that, behind-the-scenes, Cryptopia account holders funds were (in Ruscoe and Moore’s words) pooled or “co-mingled. Customers’ trades would occur in the exchange’s internal ledger without confirmation on the blockchain.
“Customers did not have individual wallets and it is impossible to determine individual ownership using just the keys in the wallets,” the latest report says.
“No detailed reconciliation process between the customer databases and the crypto-assets held in the wallets has ever been completed.
“At the date of this report [June 12] we have made significant progress, but this is still taking some time to complete. We are working to reconcile the accounts of over 900,000 active customers, many holding multiple crypto-assets, millions of transactions and potentially over 900 different crypto-assets.”
Police had no immediate update on their Crypto mania investigation. An earlier update noted the complicated nature of their inquiries, which involved several outside experts and a number of offshore authorities.
The cost of untangling Cryptopia
The report lists total receipts of $11.1m include $1m in funds on hand at the date of the liquidation, $4.4m in cryptocurrency held in a trust fund that was converted to NZ$ and $5m in funds recovered from an exchange in Arizona.
And total payments of $6.3m include $312,992 paid to secured creditors, $1.78m in liquidators fees, $1.3m in legal fees and various costs associated with maintaining Cryptopia’s IT infrastructure, and maintaining a skeleton staff.
That leaves closing funds on hand of $4.7m.
Adam Clark and his Cryptopia co-founder Rob Dawson could not be immediately reached for comment.
Clark had deleted a LinkedIn profile he had previously used to message the Herald.