The corporate watchdog is scrambling to recover a trove of Bitcoin worth up to $29 million held in an encrypted device belonging to a Gold Coast barber shop owner suspected of orchestrating a large-scale superannuation fraud.
The fraud investigation has also embroiled AFL team Western Bulldogs’ key sponsor CoinSpot.
CoinSpot is the cryptocurrency exchange used by the accused superannuation scammer Aryn Hala to invest his allegedly ill-gotten gains.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has accused Mr Hala and his partner Heidi Walters and their company A One Multi of scamming 92 financially strapped Australians who were looking to dip into their super sooner than usually allowed. Bank accounts show the couple’s company received $25 million from the investors. No criminal charges have been laid.
ASIC alleges Mr Hala and Ms Walters used the money they raised from their victims to buy Bitcoin, a Tesla, a Ferrari, luxury goods, couture fashion, weight loss surgery and to make a large donation to their church.
ASIC called in receivers from KPMG to pick through the mess of Mr Hala’s business and personal accounts and to track down the trove of Bitcoin. It has also won travel bans against Mr Hala and Ms Walters and freezing orders over their assets including the Tesla and Ferrari. The couple has hired lawyers indicating they may challenge ASIC’s allegations. Mr Hala and Ms Walters’ lawyer said they were openly assisting both ASIC and the receivers with their enquiries, including providing all records, in the hope the investigation would be quickly concluded.
But tracking down Mr Hala’s Bitcoin investments has proved to be a hard task for regulators and has raised issues with the oversight controls at CoinSpot, which bills itself as one of Australia’s leading cryptocurrency exchanges.
According to court documents filed by the regulator in support of freezing orders against the couple and their company, CoinSpot initially told ASIC investigators that no records were held for cryptocurrency accounts in the name of Mr Hala, Ms Walters or A One Multi.