25th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) The unfolding JPEX fraud scandal has spotlighted the opaque network of cryptocurrency over-the-counter (OTC) shops connected to the platform. At least four OTC sites linked to JPEX appear to have been blocked locally after police ordered ISPs to disable access, requiring VPNs to enter them.
Investigations by local media HK01 also reveal convoluted ownership structures behind some shops, with publicised “founder” influencers absent from company records, and real directors and shareholders shrouded. One OTC firm is even tied to a model agency boss.
On 20th September, police declared JPEX an apparent “fraud syndicate” and directed telecom providers to prevent access to its website and app by local users.
Besides JPEX’s site, four related crypto OTC platforms – CYOTC Chan Tai Yee, CryptoPARD, Coingaroo and Coiner – are now inaccessible without VPNs, indicating likely police blocking.
The JPEX-connected OTC network is sprawling. Company searches uncover some shops have complex arrangements, despite founders’ claims.
Hong Coin, linked to JPEX’s JPC token, had its Kennedy Town clubhouse “Tung Club” raided on 18th September. Its proclaimed founder, Henry Choi, touts a “motivational story” of earning over HK$100 million from crypto trading. But Hong Coin’s business registration and related firm Hong Coin Crypto Limited belong to Wong Yuen Ting and Cheng Ching Wai, not founder Choi. Last year, Hong Coin touted giving away a HK$3 million Lamborghini through a video game show. The car was held by Choi’s Tung Chill Limited during promotions.
Choi also runs Don’t See Limited, a store in Kennedy Town, but resigned as director/shareholder on 22nd September. Hong Coin gave away a HK$3 million Lamborghini via a video game show.
Surprisingly, Hong Coin’s trademark is held by model agency owner Ray Ng Shing-chun, at the same address as his Model Genesis firm at 14/F, Bupa Centre, 141 Connaught Road West, Sheung Wan. IP Department records show Hong Coin’s services mention cryptocurrency trading software. Ng also holds two other Hong Koin trademarks. Since 2002, Ray Ng has managed nightclubs in Lan Kwai Fong, which is the main nightlife hub in Hong Kong. In 2021, Ng closed his second club, Volar, after receiving an enticing offer to relocate to a 5,000-square-foot rooftop space in California Tower, LKF for his co-founded third establishment, Faye rooftop bar.
Though not raided, JPEX promoter CryptoPARD’s Tsim Sha Tsui branch has shut since the saga broke. Contrary to its claims, reported founder/CEO Chan Siu-lung appears nowhere in registrations.
CryptoPARD’s business registration belongs to Li Ka-lun, also director of suspected affiliates Pard Business Academy Group Limited and Red Shot Business Academy Limited.
The firm owning CryptoPARD’s trademark, Apollo Global Treasure Limited, had director Li Ka-lun replaced by Taiwan’s Niu Gengsheng in August. Apollo also links to Cryptopard Co Limited and BlockHUBZ Entertainment Group Limited. A pink supercar emblazoned with a CryptoPARD decal grabbed headlines when clamped at City One Shatin in November 2021. It is owned by Billion International (Hong Kong) Limited, whose director is insurance broker Lo Chun-hang and shareholder is Lui Koon-wai.
Unicoin, another JPEX advertiser, claimed it halted partnerships with unlicensed exchanges after the Securities and Futures Commission warning. But its proclaimed bosses Katrina Ho and Ling Tam don’t appear in any registrations. Affiliate firm Rose And Shield Digital Limited lists Eric Cheng Chun Ming as director.
Some shops have simpler structures. Arrestee Chan Yee’s CYOTC is held by Choi Yan-yee and Chan Hoi-yee, one of the arrested. Fellow detainee Joseph Lam Chok’s company has no corporate records, but his Central entertainment firm is solely owned by him.
Meanwhile, the restaurant-cum-OTC shop Bored Garden in Central, run by arrested beatboxer Wong Ho-pong, belongs to APESTAURANT GROUP LIMITED, with Wong as director/shareholder plus Lam Tsz-yeung. Meanwhile, arrestee Chu Ka-fai solely owns KT Club Limited.
Coingaroo, whose outlets were raided, has its trademark held by KANGAROOSS GALLERY LIMITED, directed/owned by Lo Kai-tai. Lo also owns suspected affiliate Kangarooss Limited, registered at Coingaroo’s Mong Kok base.
Coiner’s four linked firms – Hong Kong Corner Space Limited, Coiner Art Gallery Limited, Corner Technology Limited and Corner Marketing Communication Limited – are all solely owned by influencer Ng Hoi-yee, aka Priscilla Ng.
The convoluted structures underscore the murky depths beneath the JPEX saga’s surface, as links between cryptocurrency and entertainment worlds emerge.