Investors in the cryptocurrency mining company Sky Mining – based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam – fear that they have been ripped off by the company's CEO, Lê Minh Tâm, after he apparently disappeared with approximately $35 million of their money. He has been largely incommunicado since July 23.
According to a July 29 report from local Vietnamese outlet VN Express, a temporary board has been formed by deputy chair Lê Minh Hiếu, which reported the CEO's disappearance to the police and maintains that Lê Minh Tâm acted alone.
When investors returned to the company's headquarters in Ho Chi Minh City, they found the doors locked. All of the company's branding was stripped from the building and approximately 600 mining rigs were removed from a nearby factory in Dong Nai Province's Bien Hoa Town by people claiming to be maintenance workers.
Lê Minh Hiếu says his family has been threatened with harm by disgruntled investors and has declared, "We are victims too."
After two days missing in action, Lê Minh Tâm wrote a message in a Facebook investors' group, apologizing for "everything" and explaining that the value of mining rigs had dropped considerably. He also reportedly told investors, "My last resort is to stay hidden from [the] public to protect my life."
Perhaps in an effort to redeem himself, Lê Minh Tâm posted a video to a Telegram chat group Monday morning. During the 44-second video, Tam is seen lying in a bed as he tells investors that he is receiving medical treatment and that Sky Mining operations will resume next week. He also thanked investors for their cooperation and insisted that he did not flee and would come back to Vietnam very soon.
This latest hurdle for the country's crypto industry comes after April's news that the Vietnam-based Modern Tech Joint Stock Company allegedly committed two different initial coin offering scams, costing investors the equivalent of $658 million. This spurred the country's prime minister to challenge different government agencies to take a more proactive role in enforcing laws concerning digital currencies.
In July, Vietnam's central bank and defense ministry collaborated to temporally ban the importation of crypto mining rigs over concerns of the legality of importing this type of hardware; the State Securities Commission recently forbade financial companies from using cryptocurrency.