TheChange

Unregulated Crypto Payment Processor in Malta

Bitconvert Ltd is a Malta registered company operating the crypto payment processor TheChange (www.thechange.io). Its directors are Loukas Kokkinos and Petri Tuokko (picture below). The company has facilitated broker scams with its payment services and was approached by the European Fund Recovery Initiative (EFRI) to compensate the victims. But there are more problems. TheChange has been set to “site under maintenance” since Fintelegram reported about the EFRI claim. Moreover, bank accounts have been frozen, and a former partner filed lawsuits for not paying them.

Bank account freezing order

Bitconvert director Petri Tuokko

Maltese court documents reveal that Bitconvert has a garnishee order filed against it by a Bulgarian company named Trustnet Limited. The bank account freezing order is €80,000, while the share capital of Bitconvert is a mere €1,200. It is not yet known whether these monies are frozen in Maltese banks, but a court decision shows that six Maltese banks were informed of this freezing order.

Another lawsuit

Following this court decision, another court case was launched against Bitconvert. NKZ Global Solutions Ltd, a Hong Kong-registered company, launched court proceedings in Malta against the operator of TheChange. This Hong Kong company entered into a contract with Bitconvert in late 2019, under which it would introduce business to TheChange.

NKZ Global Solutions filed lawsuit against Bitconvert

NKZ Global Solutions was meant to receive €10,000 p.m. for its services. Payments took place for the first three months; however, as of April 2020, Bitconvert failed to honor its commitments. Legal letters sent remained unanswered. The Hong Kong company, represented by Cypriot based Nadya Kubovski (LinkedIn profile), holds a bank account with German Deutsche Handelsbank.

Millions per months

The court documents reveal that in December 2019, Bitconvert was processing between 3M to 8M Euro per month. Well, that’s quite impressive for an unregulated crypto payment processor in Malta. Much of the volume has for sure been acquired from the operators of scams. Bitconvert has provided these numbers in court documents, which are now public.

This admission clearly shows that Bitconvert was operating TheChange without any license while claiming to be an applicant with the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) to become a regulated virtual finance service provider in the definition of the Virtual Financial Assets Act. These court documents show that MFSA has allowed this company to operate without any license. This is contrary to what regulations clearly state. The MFSA has been under the scrutiny of Moneyval, with Malta likely to be greylisted in the coming months.

Illegal gambling and other activities seem to be rampant in Malta as per the latest reportage from Maltese sources. It is also bizarre that MFSA, currently under Dr. Christopher P. Buttigieg’s helm, pays selected Maltese media outlets for positive reportage.

EFRI, through its legal representatives in Malta, did inform MFSA’s Michelle Mizzi Buontempo and Edward Grech of the malicious practices of Bitconvert. To date, no reply has been forthcoming.

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