ASIC, receivers sweating on bitcoin deadline

KPMG partner John Lindholm.

Today’s the day for Heidi Elizabeth Walters and Aryn Henry Hala, the former director and director respectively of A One Multi Services Pty Ltd (A One).

By 5pm Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) the pair, both 40 of Redbank Plains in Queensland, must either surrender access to their bitcoin accounts or breach orders of the Federal Court.

The only alternative – other than a medical emergency – would be an 11th hour application to the Federal Court which succeeded in altering today’s deadline, which has already been moved back from October 23.

Sweating on the couple complying will be the corporate regulator and KPMG partners John Lindholm and Tim Michael, who are the receivers appointed to secure any and all relevant assets of A One, Walters and Hala.

ASIC alleges that the pair have been persuading investors to establish self managed super funds (SMSFs) from which can be lent funds for investment into A One’s investment scheme.

In its initial application to the Federal Court late last month for orders freezing assets; orders for the appointment of receivers and orders preventing Walters and Hala from leaving the country, ASIC said the scheme promised returns of as much as 26 per cent per annum.

Based on the judgments and orders produced by the court to date, A One’s scheme does not appear to have enriched anyone other than Walters and Hala, although there is some suggestion that friends and close associates have also seen their own SMSF balances increased.

It is however early days. As Federal Court judge Derrington said (either Roger or Sarah, the court has not deigned to identify which), there’ve been no findings of wrongdoing against the couple. Nor have the friends and associates ASIC alleges enjoyed enrichment at others’ expense been named.

In the short term all that matters for the regulator and the receivers is that the couple’s bitcoin accounts, which could hold digital currency worth more than $18 million, are opened and the coins transferred into the receiver’s possession by 5pm.

As well as extending the deadline to today, the orders made on Monday this week include requiring Walters and Hala to help an ASIC officer operate their electronic devices “to effect the transfer of the balance of Digital Currency held or in the control of the defendants to the Receivers, such assistance to be provided at the offices of the plaintiff in Brisbane at a time to be agreed but no later than 5:00pm on 3 November 2021.”

For good measure Justice Derrington also ruled that the $800 a week Walters and Hala were each originally permitted to access for general living expenses be increased to $2,600 per week.

Further reading:

ASIC Crashes SMSF Crypto Party

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