OKEx, one of the world’s largest crypto derivatives exchanges, has resumed operations following an abrupt suspension that happened last month. On Thursday, the exchange confirmed in a blog post that it had lifted its freeze. The exchange is now working towards compensating customers who were left stranded and disgruntled by the entire debacle.
A Fuzzy Withdrawal Freeze
Problems for the exchange began on October 16, when it suspended withdrawals on its platform. At the time, the company explained that one of the holders for its private keys was “cooperating with a public security bureau” over criminal investigations.
The exchange also told customers that it was unable to reach the holder. This inability meant that authorized withdrawals couldn’t be processed. Citing its terms of service, the exchange decided to suspend all withdrawals from its platforms.
While it added that customers’ funds were safe, fears were stoked when the company reportedly began moving funds in the background. Asset movement tracker Whale Alert confirmed that outgoing transfers of 1,180 BTC, 50 million TRON tokens, and 21,000 ETH – all worth over $35 million at the time – had gone through the exchange. Simultaneously, the exchange also saw incoming transactions of about $13.9 million in Tether tokens.
Days after OKEx implemented the freeze, news sources confirmed that police had dragged one of its top officials into custody. Local news source Caixin reported that Mingxing “Star” Xu, an OKEx co-founder, was questioned by police.
The news source didn’t reveal the location of the questioning. Since OKEx only has a divisional office in Hong Kong, it was unclear whether the questioning took place there or in the company’s home of Malta.
Caixin also failed to note whether Xu was still in custody. Colin Wu, a reporter at WeChat account Wu Blockchain, posted later that the case involved a money-laundering investigation.
Earlier, Wu had exclusively disclosed that the OTC merchant on OKEx had mistakenly received 500,000 CNY from the fraud group and was hunted by the police across the provinces.
— Wu Blockchain（Chinese Crypto Reporter） (@WuBlockchain) October 16, 2020
“The Chinese government is cracking down on money laundering using cryptocurrency for telecom fraud, and centralized exchanges are in a very dangerous state,” Wu claimed.
Sorry for the Wait
Caixin’s report also contradicted another account from Mars Finance, which claimed that Xu was being questioned over a backdoor listing for the OK Group – OKEx’s parent company – in Hong Kong last year. The report added that OKEx had cut ties with Xu, with the exchange claiming that he hadn’t worked with them for a long time.
In that time, customers have been scrambling for explanations as to what was going on. The exchange’s silence definitely made things worse. OKEx now seems ready to compensate some of those users. The exchange announced its return last week, explaining that it would launch a loyalty and rewards program to apologize for its radio silence.
The exchange’s loyalty program features discounts, issuances of debit rebate cards, and more. There is an entire blog post that explains the criteria for eligibility and rules of the program.