On Thursday, Hong Kong authorities apprehended another eight individuals linked to the JPEX controversy, raising the total count of those detained in the suspected fraud to 36.
Officials have further disclosed that as many as 2,595 victims reported financial losses due to the JPEX crypto exchange’s activities. The accumulated sum of the alleged fraud has surged to 1.6 billion yuan or roughly $213 million, a considerable rise from the initial estimate of about $154 million.
Previously, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong identified that JPEX, based in Dubai, had been conducting cryptocurrency trading in the region without a proper license.
Investigation Continues in JPEX Scandal
Authorities have announced that every individual taken into custody has been released on bail while the investigation continues. They are scheduled to report back to the police from later this month until the end of December. Among those scrutinized in connection to this alleged scam are several prominent influencers.
Last month, Joseph Lam, who transitioned from a barrister to an insurance agent and refers to himself as the “Trolling King” on Instagram, was detained and interrogated. Additionally, the police apprehended Chan Yee, a YouTube influencer boasting a following of 200,000 subscribers.
The Hong Kong police, in a statement to local press, emphasized that their probe into the cryptocurrency exchange is still in progress and the possibility of further arrests remains open.
Hong Kong’s Regulators to Tighten Crypto Regulations
In the aftermath of the JPEX incident, Louise Ho Pui-shan, the Commissioner of Customs and Excise in Hong Kong, had previously expressed the need for enhanced regulation and supervision to counter the rising threat of money laundering in the cryptocurrency domain.
This substantial scam has spurred a reassessment of regulatory measures for establishments that enable the conversion of fiat money to cryptocurrencies, often termed as cash-for-crypto businesses.
Moreover, as a direct consequence of the controversy, both Hong Kong’s central bank and its securities oversight body have rolled out more stringent rules concerning cryptocurrencies.
The updated regulations specify that certain cryptocurrency-based products and offerings will be exclusively available to professional investors. Both the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the Securities and Futures Commission have underscored the notion that the complexities and potential risks of virtual asset-related products might be too intricate for the general public or retail investors to navigate safely.