JPEX in disarray after Hong Kong’s regulators initiate probe
- On 13 September, Hong Kong’s regulator warned JPEX was operating without regulatory approval.
- Local police have received 1,408 complaints involving $128 million.
Since Hong Kong’s regulator issued a warning last week about JPEX operating without approval, the exchange has fallen into a state of disarray. After the arrest of an influencer associated with JPEX, the exchange has halted trading on its Earn Trading interface effective 18 September. Users can continue any existing trades until they finish that they have entered into. However, they cannot make new trading transactions.
Previously, it significantly raised the withdrawal fees on the platform.
At the time, JPEX claimed that it is taking the action due to a liquidity shortage caused by third-party market makers. The firm accused these market makers of acting maliciously, post the regulatory warning. The exchange said it is negotiating with the market makers so that it can resolve the liquidity issue and bring down the withdrawal fees to normal levels.
JPEX also disclosed its plan to restructure itself as a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). This way, it aims to seek and implement user input through voting.
Soon after, on 15 September, a Taiwanese media platform reported that the exchange’s Taipei office was vacated. The same day, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) warned the public to be wary of crypto-businesses marketing themselves as “banks.” Worth noting, however, that it didn’t specify any such platform.
On 18 September, a local media platform reported that local police arrested a social media influencer associated with JPEX. The same day, South China Morning Post (SCMP) affirmed that the police had arrested six individuals.
Allegedly, the police had received 1,408 complaints about fraud at JPEX. The amount involved was estimated to be $128 million.
That’s not all either, as JPEX abandoned its booth at the Token 2049 conference in Singapore.
The Platinum sponsor, JPEX, abandoned their booth at #Token2049 on the second day. 👀
On a side note, their logo looks quite similar to FTX. Is that a sign? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/KZw9o5vNgF
— J O Y (@joyxspacelatte) September 14, 2023
The crypto-exchange established a presence in Hong Kong more than two years ago.
On 13 September, the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) issued a warning about JPEX. The SFC is the securities regulator of Hong Kong. It cautioned investors the crypto-exchange was operating without regulatory approval. The exchange had not applied to run a regulated virtual asset trading platform (VATP).
The exchange was quick to issue a rebuttal when it questioned the SFC’s commitment to a crypto-friendly environment in Hong Kong. Furthermore, it expressed concerns over suppressing development of cryptocurrencies in the region.
However, even JPEX’s website is not accessible as of now.
Contrary to mainland China’s adverse crypto-policies, Hong Kong has been vying to become the global crypto hub. It is therefore critical for us to observe how the authorities in Hong Kong deal with the JPEX controversy.