The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has obtained an emergency asset freeze against Virgil Capital LLC for allegedly defrauding investors under the guise of digital currency investing.
In its press release, the watchdog revealed that the asset freeze, and other emergency action, was in relation to a securities fraud relating to Virgil Capital’s flagship digital currency trading fund, Virgil Sigma Fund LP. The SEC further alleged that Stefan Qin, a 23-year-old Australian citizen who lives in New York, orchestrated the fraud.
Qin and his co-conspirators established the Sigma Fund in 2018. Since then, they have been allegedly defrauding investors by making material misrepresentations about the fund’s strategy, assets and financial condition, according to the U.S. regulator. One of these was that Qin was using a proprietary algorithm to trade digital currencies.
Rather, Qin has been using the funds to fund his personal lifestyle and on some undisclosed high-risk investments. When the investors requested redemption of their funds, Qin claimed that their money would be transferred to the VQR Multistrategy Fund LP, yet another fund under his ultimate control.
As per the SEC complaint, Qin and his associates presented their fund as a highly profitable venture. In their marketing brochure, they claimed that their fund had outperformed the market by almost 200%. The SEC stated:
“The brochure shows positive monthly returns for 36 of the 37 months since inception, including one monthly return of 48.7%. It also shows an average monthly return of 10% over that period compared to 11% for bitcoin during the same period, but claims that bitcoin was far more volatile and had 16 negative monthly returns compared to just one for the Sigma Fund.”
The complaint, which the SEC filed at the Southern District of New York, charges Qin and his associated companies with violation of the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws. It seeks permanent injunctions, disgorgement with prejudgment interest and civil penalties against Qin and his co-conspirators.
Kristina Littman, the Chief of the SEC’s Enforcement Division’s Cyber Unit remarked, “This emergency action is an important step to protect investor assets and prevent further harm. Qin allegedly made false promises to lure investors and then continued his deception to conceal his misuse of investor funds.”
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