Trustee for Ontario Crypto King’s bankruptcy wants discharge denied till he pays $4.5M

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Bankruptcy and Insolvency Trustees

The trustee overseeing the bankruptcy of Ontario’s self-proclaimed “Crypto King” wants a judge to deny Aiden Pleterski a discharge from bankruptcy until he pays back more than $4.5 million in assets and funds the trustee says Pleterski hasn’t accounted for.

In its latest report, the trustee — accounting firm Grant Thornton — says the 25-year-old has yet to provide evidence of where a $360,000 watch he purchased ended up, and hasn’t accounted for more than $2.7 million worth of cryptocurrency, along with more than $500,000 he spent on platforms used to buy and sell digital assets — primarily for video games online.

“Given Pleterski’s history and continued lack of co-operation, the trustee is very concerned that Pleterski’s continued travel and extravagance is being funded by assets that should be surrendered to the trustee,” wrote Jake Wiebe, senior vice-president at Grant Thornton in the trustee report.

“Pleterski has maintained his lavish pre-bankruptcy lifestyle and the trustee has concluded that the undisclosed assets are likely being used to fund this lifestyle.”

The report also sheds light on how Pleterski paid for some of that lifestyle last fall. The “Crypto King” used $13,000 worth of Scene points from his credit card on luxury hotels and round-trip flights to Los Angeles and Australia. 

Pleterski charged with fraud last week

All of this comes just over a week after Pleterski was charged with fraud over $5,000 and money laundering following an 18-month joint investigation between Durham Regional Police and the Ontario Securities Commission.

Police allege Pleterski solicited funds from investors, promising massive profits and guaranteeing no losses from their original investment. When investors couldn’t access the money they provided to him, many of them reported the situation to police.

He was released on bail on May 14, with his parents putting up a $100,000 surety that he will follow his bail conditions. Those include surrendering his passport, not contacting investors, refraining from making any social media posts involving financial matters, such as soliciting investments, and not buying or trading cryptocurrencies.

CBC Toronto has reported extensively on Pleterski since the summer of 2022, when he was forced into bankruptcy by some of his investors. For more than a year and a half now, his investors have been trying to track down more than $40 million they gave him to invest in cryptocurrencies and foreign exchanges. 

Bankruptcy proceedings are administered by a licensed insolvency trustee, which is a federally regulated professional, responsible for investigating the finances of a person or business that has gone bankrupt and administering their estate. 

Grant Thornton’s latest report was released ahead of Pleterski’s bankruptcy discharge hearing, which will take place in early June in Ontario Superior Court in Toronto.

The trustee’s investigation previously found that Pleterski only invested about two per cent of investor funds while spending nearly $16 million on himself — renting private jets, going on vacations, adding luxury cars to his collection and leasing a lakefront mansion prior to his bankruptcy.

The bankruptcy proceeding has also recovered about $3.3 million in cash and liquidated assets for roughly 160 investors.  

$13K in Scene points used to pay for hotels, flights

Last fall, Pleterski’s social media posts showed him jet-setting to the U.K., Miami and Australia. 

The latest bankruptcy report provides some answers as to how Pleterski was able to travel so extensively while bankrupt. He provided the trustee receipts showing how he used about $13,000 worth of Scene points from his credit card to pay for luxury hotels and flights.

“Pleterski had not previously advised the trustee that he was in possession of these assets which were an asset of his estate and should have been liquidated for the benefit of his creditors, not spent on elaborate personal travel,” wrote Wiebe in the trustee report.

Pleterski spent more than $8,000 in points on seven nights in hotels in London and Manchester while he was in the U.K. The average cost per night ranged between $1,000 and $1,400.

He also used $1,600 in points to pay for his round-trip flights from Toronto to Los Angeles, and he redeemed more than $3,400 in points to pay for his round-trip flights from Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia.

Pleterski claimed all of his other expenses for these trips were paid for by third parties, but hasn’t provided any evidence to the trustee to support those claims, according to the report. He also hasn’t provided his remaining balance of Scene points or the balance as of the date of his bankruptcy. 

In an email included in the report, Pleterski told the trustee, “I was also not aware that the Scene points needed to be reported as I understand that they are non-transferrable and have no cash value.

“Had you asked me to report them to you, I certainly would have, but your recent email is the first suggestion that I needed to make you aware of them.”

More than $500K transferred to digital assets

The trustee also found records of payments Pleterski made to online platforms where users can buy and sell digital assets — like virtual weapons to use in games. 

Those payments include $280,000 US transferred through PayPal to a platform called CS Virtual Trade Ltd. for “Cs.money.” Those funds can then be used to buy and sell video game digital assets on Steam, an online game storefront. 

In July 2023, Pleterski appeared on a live stream and showed off a number of digital assets, called “Steam Skins,” that the trustee said are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In response to questions from the trustee, Pleterski said he had faked the Steam Skins and they don’t exist. He also told the trustee he lost the $280,000 US in a gambling service provided by Steam, but didn’t provide evidence of that.

Late last year, and as recently as March, the trustee’s report says, they received information that Pleterski was actively trading in Steam Skins, but Pleterski has yet to address that evidence. 

Pleterski’s credit card statements also show that he spent another $207,000 on other online platforms similar to Cs.money. 

As part of the discharge hearing next month, the trustee is asking the court for an order requiring Steam’s developer to provide the trustee with all of Pleterski’s Steam account information and to freeze all of his accounts. 

The trustee’s report also includes other recommendations for Pleterski’s bankruptcy discharge. 

Those include barring him from ever applying for or obtaining unsecured credit and from soliciting or marketing debt or equity-based investments, suspending any discharge of his bankruptcy for two years, and requiring he pay pre- and post-bankruptcy income tax returns before he’s discharged. 

The discharge hearing is set to be heard on June 6.

Pleterski will next appear in court on his criminal charges on June 10.

This article was originally sourced from www.CBCNews.com