Legislator Councillor receives assistance requests from 30 victims involving over HK$100m in JPEX case

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Johnny Ng (centre).

18th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) In a press conference held today (18th), a Legislative Councillor revealed that they have received assistance requests from 30 victims, involving a total amount exceeding HK$100 million, in connection with the suspected fraud case surrounding the virtual asset trading platform JPEX. They strongly believe that the government needs to do more to protect small investors, both in terms of education and information disclosure, as they anticipate significant repercussions for the development of virtual assets in Hong Kong. One of the victims expressed their initial optimism about their investment after being introduced to it by a friend, stating, “I hoped for good returns, but never imagined it was a scam.” They have suffered a temporary loss of approximately six figures and are hopeful of recovering their principal.

Legislative Councillor Johnny Ng Kit-chong, who has a background in technology, revealed that he has recently received assistance requests from around 30 victims, with varying losses ranging from six to seven figures. The estimated total amount involved in these cases exceeds HK$100 million. He emphasised the significant impact this event will have on the development of virtual assets in Hong Kong. In response, law enforcement agencies reported that as of last Saturday (16th), they had received a total of 83 reports of victims, with an estimated amount of approximately HK$34 million.

One victim, known as Ms. B, stated that she started investing in cryptocurrencies in March this year through an introduction from someone she knew. Encouraged by staff, she invested a six-figure sum in platform coins, believing in the platform’s promising future. She expressed disappointment, stating, “Everyone around me eagerly invested, hoping for good returns, but we never expected it to be a scam.”

Another victim, Mr. A, revealed that he had deposited a six-figure sum on the platform and experienced normal withdrawal and deposit processes. Typically, withdrawals took no longer than half a day, with some transactions being completed within minutes and the longest taking eight hours. His most recent successful withdrawal was at the beginning of September.

Upon reviewing the available information, it was found that the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) had already listed JPEX as a suspicious entity in July of the previous year. However, it took approximately 14 months for action to be taken. When asked if the slow response from the SFC resulted in financial losses for investors, Johnny Ng Kit-chong pointed out that during the gap period, unscrupulous individuals took advantage of the situation. Nevertheless, he believes the government could do more to protect small investors by enhancing education and information disclosure, as even he himself may not be fully aware of the suspicious entities list.

Regarding JPEX, which once required its users to pay an approximately HK$8,000 handling fee for all transactions, Johnny Ng Kit-chong noted that the current regulatory framework does not specify transaction fee limits. He suggests that the government should consider implementing regulations in this area as well.

Meanwhile, in response to the fraudulent claims, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has taken action by notifying social media influencers and over-the-counter cryptocurrency exchange platforms. Among those under investigation is Joseph Lam Chok, a former lawyer who has transitioned into an insurance manager and social media influencer. Today, it was revealed that Lam has been arrested by officers from the Commercial Crime Bureau in connection with the JPEX case. A search was conducted at his office in Central this morning, and he was subsequently escorted out of the Entertainment Building by two police officers before being taken to the Central Police Station in a private police vehicle. During the search, officers seized various pieces of evidence, including a significant amount of banknotes stored in several boxes.