Two cryptocurrency companies collapse owing $160m

Savannah Meacham |

ASIC is seeking to stop NGS companies providing financial services in Australia without a licence.
ASIC is seeking to stop NGS companies providing financial services in Australia without a licence.

Two Australian cryptocurrency companies have collapsed into liquidation owing hundreds of investors more than $160 million.

The Australian Security and Investments Commission (ASIC) has launched civil proceedings against NGS companies – NGS Crypto Pty Ltd, NGS Digital Pty Ltd and NGS Group Ltd – and the directors of these schemes – Brett Mendham, Ryan Brown and Mark Ten Caten.

NGS companies are blockchain cryptocurrency mining companies.

The companies allegedly targeted Australian investors to establish self-regulated superannuation funds, convert the money to cryptocurrency and invest it in blockchain mining packages with fixed-rate returns.

The financial watchdog believes about 450 investors funded $62 million through the companies.

It is also alleged that NGS companies provided these financial services without an Australian licence.

The Federal Court ordered on Wednesday liquidators Anthony Connelly, Kathy Sozou, and Jamie Harris of McGrathNicol would be responsible for the digital currency assets of NGS companies and its directors.

ASIC launched the request for this order over concerns the digital assets invested in blockchain mining products were at risk of being dissipated.

Mr Mendham has also been blocked from leaving Australia.

The watchdog is also seeking to stop NGS companies providing financial services in Australia without a licence.

ASIC chair Joe Longo warned Australians of the risks of investing their self-managed super funds into cryptocurrency investments.

“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,” Mr Longo said in a statement.

Separately, fellow Australian cryptocurrency funds – DCA Capital, Digital Commodity Assets Pty Ltd and the Digital Commodity Assets Fund – have been thrust into liquidation with federal court proceedings also pursued against the companies’ director Ashod Balanian.

It comes after concerns from investors that the funds had not been properly managed, did not hold the appropriate licences and may have been operating in breach of managed investment scheme requirements.

KordaMentha’s liquidators Scott Langdon, Jennifer Nettleton and John Mouawad have been appointed to wind up the companies and the digital assets.

KordaMentha said examination of the the funds has so far revealed $100 million owed to 100 investors.

The Federal Court on Wednesday froze Mr Balanian’s assets – to the amount of $55 million – and he was ordered to hand in his passport.

Mr Langdon said Mr Balanian has not responded to KordaMentha’s request for information, requests for a meeting or in assisting in the liquidation proceedings.