A federal court in Texas ordered the CEO of a South African business to pay a stunning $3.4 billion in what the US commodities regulator dubbed the largest-ever bitcoin fraud case.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said on Thursday that Cornelius Johannes Steynberg had been ordered to pay a record $2.7 billion in compensation to victims of the fraud scheme, as well as another $2.7 billion in civil penalties.
Steynberg, whose last known address was in South Africa, was not available for comment at the time of publication.
The CFTC charged Steynberg in July, saying that he and Mirror Trading collected bitcoin from thousands of people online while posing as a commodities pool. The firm indicated to the regulator that it participated in off-exchange, retail foreign currency dealing with persons who were not permitted to trade.
According to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Steynberg acquired and stole at least 29,421 bitcoin, valued more than $1.7 billion at the time, from about 23,000 participants in the United States, including over 1,300 in Texas, between May 2018 and March 2021.
According to court documents, Judge Lee Yeakel of the Western District of Texas issued a default judgment against Steynberg.