JAN 5, 2024
ACE Exchange founder arrested in major fraud crackdown in Taiwan
Taiwan’s cryptocurrency scene has been rattled by the arrest of David Pan, the founder of ACE Exchange, a prominent cryptocurrency platform.
According to local media outlet Liberty Times, this development is part of a broader operation targeting fraudulent activities involving 13 additional suspects. Law enforcement authorities, as of now, have confiscated assets totaling around NT$200 million ($6.4 million), dealing a significant blow to the alleged fraudulent operations.
A sophisticated fraud scheme
The arrest of Pan, alongside company executive Lin Nan, stems from accusations of a sophisticated fraud scheme orchestrated by the duo, along with their team. The modus operandi involved deceptive tactics, including the use of fake advertisements on popular social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Over the past three years, more than 100 investors have reportedly fallen victim to the scheme, losing over one billion yuan ($140 million).
Lin Nan, leveraging social media, enticed potential investors with promises of quick wealth through the listing of virtual currencies on well-known exchanges. Simultaneously, David Pan lent credibility to ACE Exchange, fostering trust in the virtual currencies listed on the platform. However, investors soon discovered that the virtual currencies touted as having realizable value were, in reality, “junk coins” with plummeting values or no circulation options.
Ace Exchange office raid
Legal charges filed against the suspects include fraud under the Criminal Code, the Money Laundering Prevention Act and the Banking Act. Law enforcement agencies in Taiwan conducted multiple raids, including at ACE Exchange offices. Lin Nan’s residence yielded NT$111.52 million ($3.6 million) in cash, with additional cryptocurrency seizures bringing the total to over NT$200 million ($6.4 million).
In response to the scandal, ACE Exchange has distanced itself, asserting that the arrested individuals are not current employees. The company clarified that Pan had ceased active involvement in daily operations as of 2022. ACE Exchange is actively cooperating with the investigation and has positioned itself as a witness in the case.
Despite the ongoing investigation, ACE Exchange, founded in 2018 and a dominant player in Taiwan’s crypto market, continues to operate, upholding regulatory obligations and prioritizing user interests. However, the incident has prompted the platform to announce the delisting of the MOCT-TWD trading pair, effective Jan. 8, in alignment with its commitment to regularly evaluate and delist tokens not meeting stringent criteria.
This development occurs amid heightened scrutiny of cryptocurrency exchanges globally. CoinDCX, a major crypto investment firm, recently faced allegations of bank and crypto fraud on its mobile application. Similarly, Lee Jeong-hoon, former chairman of Bithumb, South Korea’s major crypto exchange, received an eight-year prison sentence over alleged fraud, awaiting an impending appeal verdict. Taiwan, like Hong Kong, had also been dealing with the fallout from the fraudulent activity of Dubai-headquartered crypto exchange JPEX.
David Pan is also the founder of the Dubai-based ZORIXchange cryptocurrency platform. Prior to crypto ventures, Pan worked for KPMG in Taiwan as its COO for startups and innovation.
These cases underscore the critical need for comprehensive regulation of the crypto ecosystem. As digital assets gain popularity, the risks of fraudulent activities rise, necessitating collaboration between governments and regulatory bodies to establish and enforce stringent regulations that protect investors and uphold the integrity of virtual crypto exchanges.