UK Cryptocurrency Fraud Leads to High Court Shutdown of Advisory Firm

In the fast-evolving world of cryptocurrency, where the digital frontier meets finance, the shutdown of the UK-based Amey Finance Academy stands as a stark reminder of the risks and regulations surrounding this burgeoning sector. Directed by Desmond Amey, the firm was officially closed down by a High Court order on April 30, 2024, following alarming revelations by the UK’s Insolvency Service.

Desmond Amey, the principal at Amey Finance Academy, had established the firm as a cryptocurrency advisory entity in December 2018, promising a range of financial services aimed at both new and experienced investors. Despite its claims of being an established consultancy, the Insolvency Service’s investigation uncovered a series of misleading practices and false assurances that put investors at significant risk.

The unraveling of Amey Finance Academy began with complaints from investors who were led to believe their investments were secure and would not fall below a certain percentage. Contrary to these assurances, many investors experienced complete losses, with no recourse due to the speculative nature of the investments and the misinformation provided. Notably, one of Desmond Amey’s promises via WhatsApp, claiming that an investment was “100 certy” and urging the investor to “trust me bro,” typifies the reckless assurances that were hallmarks of the firm’s operation.

Further investigation revealed that Amey Finance Academy promoted various cryptocurrency schemes, including HyperFund, later known as HyperVerse. This particular scheme turned out to be a Ponzi that defrauded investors of $1.7 billion globally. It operated unchecked for years, even as regulatory bodies like the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the US Securities and Exchange Commission began to take notice. Sam Lee, founder of HyperVerse, was eventually charged with fraud by the US SEC in January 2024.

The connection between Amey Finance Academy and the notorious HyperVerse remained murky due to incomplete financial records. However, Desmond Amey’s false claims of authorization from the Financial Conduct Authority and his misleading statements about the firm’s operational base at Canary Wharf’s prestigious 1 Canada Square, further tainted the firm’s legitimacy. These false credentials, combined with a January 2023 eviction from these offices for non-payment of rent, painted a picture of a firm that was far from the professional consultancy it claimed to be.

Approximately $6.3 million passed through the accounts of Amey Finance Academy from October 2019 to March 2022. Yet, due to a lack of transparency and incomplete financial documentation, the exact assets and liabilities of the firm remained indeterminate. This lack of clarity and accountability ultimately led to the High Court’s decision to shut down the firm.

This incident underscores the broader regulatory challenges and risks inherent in the cryptocurrency market. The UK Treasury had already issued warnings about the potential use of cryptocurrencies in money laundering earlier in the month, highlighting the need for increased oversight and clear regulatory frameworks to protect investors.

As the dust settles on the closure of Amey Finance Academy, the episode serves as a cautionary tale for investors and regulators alike. It emphasizes the importance of due diligence, the need for clear and truthful communication from advisory services, and the ongoing development of regulatory measures to safeguard participants in the dynamic and often unpredictable cryptocurrency market.

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