Hong Kong Authorities Form Crypto Task Force Amid JPEX Investigations

In response to recent developments related to the Dubai-based JPEX exchange and the need to address illicit crypto exchange activities, the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) and the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) have established a collaborative working group focused on cryptocurrency monitoring and investigations.

This joint task force was initiated following a meeting held on September 28, 2023. Its primary objective is to bolster cooperation between the HKPF and the SFC in the ongoing scrutiny of suspicious and illegal activities taking place on Virtual Asset Trading Platforms (VATPs), commonly known as cryptocurrency exchanges.

The working group is comprised of members from various divisions within the HKPF, including Commercial Crime, Cyber Security, Financial Intelligence, and Investigations, as well as representatives from the SFC’s Enforcement and Intermediaries divisions.

Key goals of the task force include:

  1. Information Sharing: Facilitating the exchange of information regarding suspicious activities and breaches within VATPs.
  2. Risk Assessment: Establishing a mechanism to assess the risks associated with suspicious cryptocurrency exchanges.
  3. Coordinated Investigations: Enhancing coordination and collaboration between the participating agencies in conducting investigations related to cryptocurrency activities.

The recent establishment of this task force is closely tied to the JPEX incident—a case of suspected fraud involving a Dubai-based cryptocurrency exchange operating in Hong Kong without the necessary licensing. Reports indicate that over 2,300 victims were collectively defrauded of approximately HK$1.43 billion (equivalent to $182.9 million USD), marking one of the largest financial fraud cases in Hong Kong’s history.

In light of these developments, the SFC has introduced measures aimed at enhancing transparency and security within the cryptocurrency sector. One such measure involves the publication of a comprehensive list detailing licensed, deemed-licensed, closing down, and application-pending VATPs.

It’s worth noting that Hong Kong has seen a surge in cryptocurrency activity, with significant inflows of digital assets, despite having only a small fraction of mainland China’s population. This influx has prompted authorities to take a closer look at regulating the cryptocurrency industry within Hong Kong.

As Hong Kong continues to navigate the challenges posed by cryptocurrency-related activities, this collaborative task force represents a significant step in addressing the complexities and potential risks associated with the burgeoning digital asset space. The shared goal is to protect the interests of investors and maintain the integrity of the financial sector in Hong Kong.