Brazil’s ‘Bitcoin King’ arrested over alleged $300M embezzlement

A self-proclaimed Bitcoin King has been arrested in Brazil on charges of embezzling over $300 million from his clients. Claudio Oliveira was the president of the Bitcoin Banco Group, a Brazilian digital currency brokerage company. In 2019, he claimed that his company had been hacked and lost over 7,000 BTC. Authorities have been investigating him and his company since then, culminating in his recent arrest.

Federal police in the southern city of Curitiba arrested Oliveira alongside some of the other leaders of the Bitcoin Banco Group. In a press release, the police revealed that they were investigating the group in connection with alleged money laundering, embezzlement, bankruptcy crimes and more.

Dubbed Operation Daemon, the investigation into the Bitcoin Banco Group also involved 22 search-and-seizure warrants. The police reportedly had a court order authorizing the seizure of properties tied to the company.

Operation Daemon has been ongoing for some time now, having started in 2019. It all started with the company blocking withdrawals for clients. The concerned investors went to the authorities and the investigation started.

The ‘Bitcoin King’ would shortly afterwards claim that the company had fallen victim to a hack and that over 7,000 BTC had been stolen. He, however, failed to provide any tangible proof of the hack, even after a court ordered it to, raising even more eyebrows.

By September 2019, the company had been sued by over 200 investors, prompting Oliveira to file for judicial recovery. This is an arrangement, approved by a court, which allows a company to avoid filing for bankruptcy by finding other means to pay off its creditors.

Despite the judicial recovery, Bitcoin Banco Group proceeded with business as usual, according to local media reports. It continued to recruit new clients and neglected its court-mandated duties of paying off its creditors.

While Oliveira has previously claimed that he’s unable to pay off the clients who lost their money in the purported hack, leaked tax filings have shown that he held 25,000 BTC just months after the hack. According to tax experts, Brazilian courts have the power to order him to repay the investors from this stash, even if he holds it in a personal capacity.

The Bitcoin Banco Group saga has affected over 20,000 investors, although only about 200 lawsuits have been filed against it. They range in damage value from $3,000 to $3 million.

Follow CoinGeek’s Crypto Crime Cartel series, which delves into the stream of groups—from BitMEX to BinanceBitcoin.comBlockstreamShapeShiftCoinbaseRipple and 
Ethereum—who have co-opted the digital asset revolution and turned the industry into a minefield for naïve (and even experienced) players in the market.

New to Bitcoin? Check out CoinGeek’s Bitcoin for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about Bitcoin—as originally envisioned by Satoshi Nakamoto—and blockchain.

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