A self-described 23-year-old “Crypto King” is facing a raft of demands among 140 of his investors as they try to claw back a collective total of $35 million from his company AP Private Equity Limited.
According to a Tuesday CBC report, creditors are hard at work trying to unravel where all the money they allegedly gave Canadian Aiden Pleterski to make crypto and foreign exchange investments on their behalf ended up.
A bankruptcy trustee’s report, creditors meeting minutes, court filings and complaints made to Investigation Counsel PC reveal Pleterski owned 11 vehicles, leased four other luxury cars, regularly flew on private jets and was living in a lakefront mansion that was $45,000 a month to rent.
So far, roughly $2 million worth of assets have been seized, among them two McLarens, two BMWs and a Lamborghini.
Norman Groot, the founder of Investigation Counsel PC — a fraud recovery law firm — claimed the “large lifestyle burn rate” still doesn’t “account for the amount of money that’s missing.”
An initial lawsuit brought against Pleterski resulted in his assets and bank accounts being frozen, but that has now been superseded by bankruptcy proceedings. At this stage, it is the only recovery process for investors because bankruptcy proceedings take precedence over civil claims.
Groot said that “the only other avenue available for investors would be to make reports to the Ontario Securities Commission and the police.”
“Those processes are lengthy,” he said adding, “The more time that goes by, the less likely there’s a recovery of evidence and less likely there's a recovery of money.”
Groot said the warning signs for investors of excessively high returns were there for all to see, stating:
“Five per cent interest [a week] is not available on the open market. A 23-year-old kid is unlikely to be the next Bill Gates — talk to somebody who is conservative and get a second opinion.”
Creditor Diane Moore invested $60,000 and said her investment contract gave her the lion’s share of a 70-30 split on any capital gains, which were targeted at 10 to 20 percent biweekly.
“The whole thing was based on trust,” she said, claiming to be out of pocket $50,000.
Pleterski’s lawyer Micheal Simaan has disputed the allegations and said his client has been cooperating fully with the bankruptcy process.
According to Simaan, his client started investing in crypto as a teen. His success during the bull markets prompted others to offer cash freely for investments in the hopes of striking it rich.
“Shockingly, it seems that nobody bothered to consider what would happen if the cryptocurrency market plummeted or whether Aiden, as a very young man, was qualified to handle these types of investments.”
Pleterski claimed his investment company ran into trouble thanks to “a series of margin calls and bad trades,” possibly exacerbated by the market crash and ongoing crypto winter.
He said that all the money fronted by investors in late 2021 and early 2022 is gone.
The trustee noted that they still needed to receive supporting evidence of the trades after requesting proof of transactions and bank statements.