The Brazilian Federal Police have arrested members of financial firm Bitcoin Banco Group. The group and its leader Cláudio Oliveira were charged with money laundering and fraud among others. Olivera and his group are alleged to have embezzled over 1.5B Brazilian Reals ($300M) from at least 7000 clients. The arrest was announced in a police press release on Monday. Oliveira, popularly known as “The Bitcoin King” was president of the Bitcoin Banco Group. The financial services company gained prominence at a time when crypto had reached new heights. They promised enormous profits to those who invested with them.
The arrests completed a three-year investigation called “Operation Daemon” by a 90-officer task force operating in Curitiba and the Metropolitan Region.
In late 2019 the company reported that it was missing 7000 Bitcoins. It was at this point that they filed for a judicial recovery order – a special provision for allowing Brazilian companies to pay money owed without filing for bankruptcy. The order was granted with Judge Mariana Gluszcynski Fowler Gusso explaining that Bitcoin Banco Group had presented all the necessary documentation including cash flow, balance sheet and list of creditors. The judge said from these documents it was possible the determine the current situation in the company and the viability of granting the judicial recovery order.
In response to requests to freeze the company’s accounts, he responded that “Bitcoins are essential to the company’s activity, which will be unable to recover if it suffers arrests of cryptocurrencies”.
And so the company continued operations but failed to account for the missing assets. Instead, an updated version of its platform was presented to the public with assurance that the missing Bitcoin were had been recovered. A lawyer representing the company’s clients refuted the claim, asserting that the figures that the company provided were not what audited data showed. There was also an absence of wallet data that could support the claim.
Investigations later came to reveal that money from the company’s clients was being sent to Oliveira’s personal accounts. The ensuing arrest also resulted in the seizing of several of Oliveira’s belongings like posh cars, cash and crypto hard wallets.
It has been revealed that “The Bitcoin King” has been under investigation in the past for related crimes in Europe and the US.