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Brazilian Judge Dismisses Bitcoin Scam Mastermind’s Attempt to Block His Extradition to South Africa

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A Brazilian judge has ruled that the CEO of Mirror Trading International must remain in pre-trial detention as the South African authorities have already provided the Brazilian counterparts with the documents needed for extradition purposes. The judge also rejected Johann Steinberg’s attempts to use his Brazilian family as grounds for ending his preventive detention.

Steinberg’s official extradition documentation

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A Brazilian judge recently denied a motion by Johann Steinberg — the mastermind behind Mirror Trading International (MTI), one of South Africa’s biggest cryptocurrency scams — to have his pre-trial detention overturned. In a statement, MTI’s chief executive reportedly argued that since there was no official extradition request, the court should at least place him under house arrest.

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Steinberg also argued that when he left South Africa in December 2020, there was no warrant issued for his arrest and that the case itself did not meet certain requirements that would have made extradition possible. In addition, as stated in a document released by the Brazilian judiciary, Steinberg raised the issue that he had since started a family in Brazil, so placing him under house arrest would have been sufficient.

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However, in his decree, Brazilian Supreme Court Judge André Mendonça dismissed Steinberg’s arguments. The judge said that the South African authorities had in fact “submitted documentation aimed at formalizing the extradition request”. [on April 14, 2022.]”

In addition, the judge noted that Steinberg’s arrest warrant was also “issued on March 1, 2022 by a South African court, as evidenced by the Interpol Red Diffusion documents.” The document, reportedly sent by South Africa’s public ministry, says the MTI CEO was under investigation for his role in the bitcoin scam when he left the country.

Steinberg Flight Risk

As Bitcoin.com News previously reported, before disappearing in late 2020, Steinberg handed over control of MTI funds to his wife, Nerina. However, by the time he was arrested by Brazilian law enforcement in December 2021, the former MTI mastermind was reportedly in a relationship with a Brazilian woman.

Regarding Steinberg’s attempt to use his intimate relationship with an unnamed woman as an excuse to block his extradition, Mendonsa said:

The fact that the person being extradited settled in Brazil and formed a family does not in itself preclude preventive arrest and future extradition. As the Attorney General’s Office has well noted, “The extradition rule is precautionary arrest due to mutual respect between jurisdictions.” It should be repeated that the extradited person is in detention in your country of origin.

The judge added that the fact that Steinberg was in possession of fake identification documents at the time of his arrest means that he likely has “an intent to evade possible criminal liability.” The judge’s ruling also hints that Steinberg could still violate the terms of his house arrest if the court grants his request to do so.

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Credit : news.bitcoin.com

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