July 20, 2024

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Executives Fled the Defunct Exchange with $56 Million

2 min read

Allegedly in order to evade Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations, a defunct Hong Kong exchange has started transferring money from its accounts to several centralized and decentralized platforms.

On February 20, the blockchain analytics company Cyvers Alerts reported that starting early this month, more than 24,000 Ether worth $55.6 million were transferred out of the Atom Asset (AAX) Exchange wallets. “The observed patterns indicate that the address is attempting to avoid AML tools,” experts stated. “Additionally, some funds originated from the exchange have been blacklisted by Tether.”

The last known transactions involving AAX Exchange wallets occurred in October 2023 and November 2022, prior to its discovery. With more than 2 million customers, AAX was one of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in Hong Kong prior to its demise.

Two days after cryptocurrency exchange FTX declared bankruptcy on November 13, 2022, AAX also stopped accepting withdrawals and deleted all of its social media accounts because of counterparty risk exposure. “On Dec 16 ’22, both its website and app ceased functioning,” Cyvers stated. “Initially, AAX attributed the freeze to security measures in response to alleged malicious attacks.”

Following the company’s closure, board member Haoming Liang and former CEO Thor Chan of AAX were detained by Hong Kong police in 2022 as they allegedly tried to leave the city. The creator of AAX, whose name is still unknown, is reportedly still at large, purportedly in possession of secret keys that grant access to exchange wallets and 230 million Hong Kong dollars ($29.41 million) in customer funds. The exchange’s website was unavailable at the time of writing, and it hadn’t updated its Twitter account since November 2022.

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