A prominent Macau businessman has been arrested over suspected cryptocurrency fraud.
Frederico dos Santos Rosário, who set up the company Grow uP eSports, was arrested at an unknown point. He was released on bail yesterday for 50,000 MOP (Macanese pataca).
Dos Santos Rosário is believed to have approached police himself in the first instance on 1st August, claiming that he had fallen victim to a cryptocurrency fraud organised by Dennis Lau.
However, when Macau’s Judiciary Police (PJ) looked into the matter, they discovered that all was not as it seemed – and dos Santos Rosário had in fact allegedly been perpetrating the fraud alongside Lau.
According to police information seen by local media in Macau, Lau and dos Santos Rosário offered Macau-based traders the chance to invest in a “low-risk investment with high profits”.
Allegedly, they promised the investors that they would profit by 25% every single month. The investment opportunity is believed to be related to the purchasing of crypto mining equipment.
The promised returns did not materialise, and 14.2 million MOP, equal at the time of writing to just over $1.7 million US dollars, or slightly more than £1.3 million British pounds, has been lost by over 70 investors.
Dos Santos Rosário and Lau have had a public fall out following the incident. Dos Santos Rosário has since sued Lau on the grounds of defamation.
As part of his status as a suspect under investigation, dos Santos Rosário now has to check in at the police station once a week.
The investigation is currently ongoing.
Last month, dos Santos Rosário denied all of the accusations and labelled them “baseless and calumnious allegations”.
He hit out at Lau, saying in a statement that he planned to “clarify the misinformation that Mr [sic] Dennis Lau has attempted to spread against me in an obvious attempt to shift attention from the serious accusations which have been brought against him and which are currently under investigation by the proper authorities”.
He also promised to work alongside law enforcement authorities as the investigation progressed.
“In the meantime, I will continue to actively cooperate with the ongoing criminal investigation against Mr [sic] Dennis Lau and Forger Tech in Hong Kong and Macau and have full confidence that the truth about this matter will come to light through the proper authorities.”
When the case first came to light, the Monetary Authority of Macau, a regulatory body, took the opportunity to warn residents who were considering investing in cryptocurrency instruments.
It “explicitly required all banks and payment services institutions in Macau not to participate in or provide, directly or indirectly, any financial services that involve the use of virtual currencies or virtual commodities as the means of payment”, it said.
“AMCM has been restating that provision of regulated activities such as foreign exchanges, cross-border fund transfers, or trading platforms for financial activities, without proper authorization constitutes a violation of the Financial System Act”, it added.
It also waded into the ongoing debate over the nature of cryptocurrencies, describing them as “virtual commodities”.