The CEO of popular Chinese cryptocurrency exchange IDAX, Lei Guorong, has disappeared, according to a statement made by the exchange today. The statement strongly suggests that Guorong escaped with the majority of the exchange's money on the same day it announced its withdrawal from China, following a recent crackdown on crypto exchanges in the country.
According to the statement, the rest of the exchange's team cannot access its cold storage wallet—an offline, more secure way of storing cryptocurrencies—which stores almost all of its funds because of the CEO's disappearance. This suggests that Guorong is the only person with access to all the funds.
As a result, the exchange has shut down deposits and withdrawals.
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The statement said the exchange has been out of contact with its CEO since November 24. This was the same day that China announced it had shut down 173 crypto exchanges in the country. The exchange was unable to provide a reason for the CEO's unexpected departure.
The IDAX rumor mill
Today's statement confirms suspicions surrounding IDAX, which had been floating around on social media since November 26, after a story posted on Weibo accused the CEO with running off with user funds.
Although the platform technically has several CEOs (one for each of its international branches) and the statement did not name the CEO, it is widely suspected that the announcement refers to Guorong, who founded the exchange.
“IDAX Global is doing its best to try to grasp variety of news and current situation exactly including rumor on internet community," said the exchange.
The exchange recommended that users refrain from using its services, at least until an alternative or backup withdrawal service is established. Despite this, the exchange still appears to have significant trade activity, with more than $700 million traded in the last 24 hours.
Meanwhile, the IDAX overseas Telegram group remains inaccessible to new users, after being blocked by Telegram's automatic porn filter, whereas the Chinese Telegram community has been deleted. Nonetheless, frustrated users have turned their attention to the IDAX Twitter account, with dozens of comments hoping that this isn't an exit scam.