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Judge in Canada refuses asset unfreezing plea in crypto fraud case

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A senior judge in the Canadian province of British Columbia has said he will not grant defendants in the case of alleged crypto fraud the right to keep their assets.

Elliot M. Myers, who is presiding over the case of Lisa Angela Cheng and Kevin Patrick Hobbs, refused their request to not have their assets frozen.

The two, who are facing a civil forfeiture suit over a C$30 million (US$22.5m) crypto fraud allegation, had petitioned for the right.

Myers refused the plea, saying that the two had not gone far enough to explain why the freezing was wrong.

“Looking at the matter overall, I do not think the defendants have demonstrated that the seizure is not within the interests of justice”, he said.

The case of Cheng and Hobbs has been long-running and has hung over the Canadian crypto world for a long time. They ran two technology companies which had links to cryptocurrencies.

The firms were called Vanbex Group Inc. and Etherparty SmartContracts Inc, and they are believed to have set up a coin called “FUEL” which relied on fraudulent solicitation.

It is understood that while charges have not yet been laid out in full, the pair are likely to be accused of tax evasion, fraud and more.

Money laundering is also on the list of alleged crimes, and the pair are accused of having raised their crypto investments in a deceitful manner.

According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which is Canada’s federal police force, the pair created what looked like “corporate investment opportunities” – but which they ultimately intended to use “for their own personal benefit.”

Last spring, the pair found that their assets had been frozen after the British Columbia Civil Forfeiture Office announced that it would be taking over a property, two vehicles and several bank accounts while the investigation proceeded.

It is understood that the total amount collected by the pair during the course of their alleged criminal activities exceeded $30m dollars.

The pair are accused by this office of trying to dispose of as many of their assets as possible. It is believed that they placed their high-end property on the market for a figure close to the equivalent of $6m US dollars. They also attempted to sell their vehicles, which were worth the equivalent of over $60,000 US dollars per car.

The two deny the allegations that they tried to get funding for their crypto token from investors in a fraudulent manner.

The website of Vanbex is still live, and in a post uploaded in June 2019 it appeared to suggest that some of the technology developed by the firm would now be moved to another firm.

“We feel that the best course of action is to move the technology our team has developed such as Rocket and CryptoTaxes, along with our team, to a new company. Their leadership will take this to the next level while removing all the negativity surrounding Vanbex and its founders”, it said.