ASIC obtains Federal Court orders appointing receivers over digital currency assets of blockchain mining companies

ASIC has commenced civil proceedings against blockchain mining companies NGS Crypto Pty Ltd, NGS Digital Pty Ltd and NGS Group Ltd (NGS Companies) and the sole directors of those respective companies, Brett Mendham, Ryan Brown and Mark Ten Caten.

On 10 April 2024, the Federal Court made orders appointing Anthony Connelly, Kathy Sozou, and Jamie Harris of McGrathNicol as receivers over the digital currency assets of the NGS Companies and of Mr Mendham, Mr Ten Caten and Mr Brown. ASIC applied for these orders because it is concerned that the digital assets of investors, which are invested in the blockchain mining products offered by the NGS Companies, are at risk of dissipation and considered the appointment of a receiver was the best way to protect the assets.

The Court also made orders restraining Mr Mendham from travelling outside of Australia.

ASIC alleges that the NGS Companies target Australian investors to invest in blockchain mining packages with fixed-rate returns, encouraging them to use funds transferred from regulated super funds to self-managed super funds (SMSFs) and then converted into cryptocurrency. ASIC’s preliminary investigations indicate over 450 Australians invested approximately USD$41 million through the NGS Companies.

ASIC alleges in the proceedings that the NGS Companies contravened section 911A of the Corporations Act by providing financial services without an Australian financial services licence. As part of the proceedings ASIC is also seeking interim and final injunctions against the NGS Companies preventing them from providing financial services in Australia without an Australian financial services licence.

ASIC Chair Joe Longo said, ‘Australians who decide to self-manage their super should consider the risks before using their SMSF to invest in crypto related investment products such as blockchain mining. These proceedings should also send a message to the crypto industry that products will continue to be scrutinised by ASIC to ensure they comply with regulatory obligations in order to protect consumers.’

No return date has been scheduled for the proceeding at this stage.

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