CEZA: Chinese-manned firm traded cryptocurrency illegally

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2019 08:02 AM | Updated as of Sep 17 2019 08:28 AM

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MANILA — A Chinese-manned service provider near the capital raided by authorities last week had engaged in illegal cryptocurrency operations, the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) said Tuesday. 

Agents on Friday arrested some 270 employees of Grapefruit Services Inc. in Pasig, the service provider of Golden Millennial Quickpay, an offshore cryptocurrency company licensed by CEZA. 

Grapefruit was allowed to use an office in Ortigas Center while CEZA was still preparing facilities in Cagayan, said the agency's Administrator and CEO Raul Lambino. 

But before the raid, authorities received information that Grapefruit disconnected its system from that of regulators and had conducted cryptocurrency transactions with customers in China, where these exchanges are banned, he told radio DZMM. 

"Iyon po ay iniimbestigahan naming mabuti: kung bakit po sila nag-o-operate sa China samantalang maliwanag po na hindi po sila dapat mag-operate sa mga jurisdiction na ipinagbabawal po ang cryptocurrency trading," he told radio DZMM. 

(That's what we are thoroughly investigating: why they are operating in China even if it's clear that they shouldn't do so in jurisdictions where cryptocurrency trading is banned.) 

Grapefruit also failed to register with CEZA 2 floors of its 3-storey office and some 100 employees, including 4 individuals wanted by Chinese authorities for previous charges, added Lambino.
 
Grapefruit's operations cost victims in China some 100 million yuan or about P741.7 million, a report by Agence France-Presse said. 

If proven that Grapefruit colluded with Golden Millennial Quickpay, the latter would lose its license to operate, said Lambino. 

CEZA granted licenses to 25 cryptocurrency traders, but only Golden Millennial Quickpay has started operations, the official said. 

The Philippines has seen a spike in the arrival of Chinese tourists and workers since President Rodrigo Duterte came to power in mid-2016 and immediately set about warming relations with Beijing.

The influx has had a mixed impact in the Philippines, with authorities suspecting many of the arrivals are working illegally in the online gambling industry. With a report from Agence France-Presse