The Australian Securities and Investments Commission seeks to recover a cold wallet containing up to $20 million worth of Bitcoin.
ASIC accuses two suspects of defrauding investors
The ASIC has accused the owners of Gold Coast-based A One Multi of defrauding 92 investors of AU$25 million (US$18 million). ASIC accuses Aryn Hala and Heidi Walters of committing superannuation fraud on a large scale. The suspects used the fraudulent money to buy Bitcoin, a Tesla, a Ferrari, and other luxury goods, as well as weight-loss surgery and a significant donation to the couple’s church.
ASIC also won a travel ban against the couple and ordered a freeze on their assets, including luxury cars. According to a report by the Sydney Morning Herald, they are also in possession of a cold wallet believed to contain nearly $20 million in Bitcoin purchased with the fraudulent funds. Hala and Walters have instructed a lawyer who hints they intend to challenge the charges. The lawyer told the Sydney Morning Herald that the two have openly supported ASIC’s investigation and hope the regulator will complete it quickly.
Investigators will have a hard time accessing the cold wallet
The investigators will have difficulty getting their hands on the stolen Bitcoin in the cold wallet allegedly linked to Hala. Theoretically, it is impossible to get the cryptocurrency stored in the cold wallet even if the police have the physical wallet. The reason for that is the cryptographic encryption, or algorithms, that were initially designed to protect the wallet owner. Mr. Hala is expected to provide KPMG with details of accessing his cold wallet in the coming weeks.
The case also raised concerns about the oversight capacity of Australia’s leading crypto exchange CoinSpot, which Hala used for his crypto trading. The company was unable to provide authorities with adequate records of Hala’s accounts. ASIC instead relied on traditional bank accounts to verify that Hala was a customer of the crypto exchange. CoinSpot responded to these concerns by stating, “CoinSpot has a cooperative relationship with all relevant regulatory bodies including ASIC. Any lawful requests for information by regulators are treated seriously and with priority.