NEW YORK: An Australian man pleaded guilty on Thursday (Feb 4) to securities fraud for cheating investors of more than US$90 million by squandering money they spent on his cryptocurrency fund, prosecutors said.
Stefan He Qin, 24, entered the plea to a single count of the fraud charge in Manhattan federal court. Authorities said the fraud occurred from 2017 to 2020 as Qin operated the fund titled Virgil Sigma.
“Stefan He Qin drained almost all of the assets from the US$90 million cryptocurrency fund he owned, stealing investors’ money, spending it on indulgences and speculative personal investments, and lying to investors about the performance of the fund and what he had done with their money," US Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a release.
She said Qin then tried to steal money from another fund he controlled to meet the redemption demands of the defrauded investors in the former fund.
"The whole house of cards has been revealed, and Qin now awaits sentencing for his brazen thievery,” Strauss said.
Prosecutors said Qin cheated dozens of investors, including many in the United States.
They said the fraud was revealed last summer when Qin was having difficulty meeting redemption requests from investors. Qin faces up to 20 years in prison at a May 20 sentencing.
A lawyer for Qin did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.