Johann Steynberg, the fugitive CEO and founder of collapsed Bitcoin trading platform Mirror Trading International, has been arrested and charged with using a new identity.
Former Mirror Trading International (MTI) chief Johann Steynberg will likely face charges in Brazil for using new identity documents and being deported to South Africa.
Captain Jonathan Andrade of a particular military police unit called Giro in the Brazilian state of Goiás said they arrested Steynberg after receiving a tip about a foreigner who was using a fake ID. They placed Steynberg under surveillance after receiving the tip-off, and when their intelligence gathering capabilities were exhausted, Giro contacted the Brazilian Federal Police.
Biggest Cryptocurrency scam in 2020
Using Giro’s intel, police confirmed the suspect was Johann Steynberg — a fugitive reportedly wanted by the FBI and Interpol and thought to be using a new identity was a bitcoin-based investment scheme that Chainalysis named the biggest cryptocurrency scam of 2020. Court documents gave the last estimate of the funds that flowed through MTI as 29,421.03379 bitcoin — R19.7 billion at current exchange rates. In a joint operation on 29 December 2021 with the Brazilian Federal Police and Interpol, Giro arrested Steynberg. He allegedly presented his new identity when the officers approached him.
When they searched his residence, police found two documents from his new identity, two laptops, a cell phone, and six credit cards all under his new identity.
Andrade said that Steynberg originally lived under the radar at a modest hotel in São Paulo but later moved to Goiânia, the capital of Goiás, where he provided a luxurious lifestyle for his girlfriend. Steynberg has a wife and child in South Africa, who he left behind in Polokwane when he fled the country in December 2020. “We also know from other sources that he owns many other moveable assets probably under different new identities” Andrade said in a separate interview. Andrade stated that information from sources linked a jet and imported cars to Steynberg and using his new identity would be part of the Federal Police investigation.
“[On 29 December], he was sent to the Federal Police Station, and then other international institutions contacted us, like the FBI,” said Andrade. “He will probably be charged in Brazil for using false documents used to make a new identity; then the Federal Police will possibly send him for extradition.”
Amicus International Consulting has learned that Steynberg will likely not have a full extradition hearing in Brazil but will face charges for his alleged use of a new identity and then be deported to South Africa.