Observers have begun to raise an eyebrow after many users of embattled cryptocurrency exchange WEX complained of the difficulty encountered in withdrawing major cryptocurrencies or fiat from the exchange.
The inability of its users to make withdrawals has been lingering in the past three months with the initial state of discontent rumbling on social media platforms. Fearing a replay of the ugly episode that led to the clampdown of BTC-e, users have begun filing reports for the police to look into the matter.
While WEX has tried dissociating itself from the defunct BTC-e, many firmly believe it rose from the ashes of the latter. Even though it has denied any involvement with BTC-e, the new platform reflects the defunct one in design, functionality and the trading options it makes available to the customers. Lending credence to the possible link between them is the ease with which it inherited all the customers who were registered on BTC-e’s website.
As wary users take it upon themselves to sensitize the unsuspecting ones of the trouble that may be lurking, not less than 35 police reports have been filed and sent through the website of the Russian Interior Ministry.
It will be recalled that BTC-e was indicted by the U.S. government and levied a fine of $110 million on one of its alleged operators for using the exchange as a tool for perpetrating violations including hacking, identity theft schemes, narcotics distribution rings among others. The veiled resuscitation of BTC-e under the name, WEX, as many believe, should have been a tell-tale sign of the scenario bound to play itself out.
Users began to encounter difficulty in making withdrawals sometimes in July 2018 and observers as at then thought the anomaly was due to the high fiat withdrawal fees. Trading prices on the WEX exchange seemed absurd compared to what was reported on other trading exchanges. In the week when it all started, users complained about the price of bitcoin on WEX which was put at nearly $9,000 while many other exchanges reported within the tune of $6,000.
The Russian News Agency (RBK) obtained Singapore records which listed Dmitry Vassilev as the owner of WEX’s operator, World Exchange Services. Vassilev ascribed the seemingly odd trading activities to Dmitry Surtomin who was a former WEX manager.
Explaining further, Surtomin who has also served as the vice president of the Russian association of Cryptocurrencies and Blockchain was engaged in the large purchase and sale of WEX codes—used to authorize transactions on the platform.
Surtomin denied further connections with the exchange beyond buying and selling of its codes because of the hype around cryptocurrencies.
The statements obtained from Vassilev casts doubt on who is actually in charge of WEX. The news agency also believes Vassilev had plans of selling the exchange to Dmitry Khavchenko, a former volunteer fighter in Ukraine who also participated in the militia forces in Crimea.
According to the report, Khavchenko claimed he had plans to relocate the headquarters of WEX to Crimea and get it incorporated in Donbass, a war-torn region of Ukraine. There are indications that Khavchenko and a good number of people engaged in the conflict have their stakes in the management of the exchange currently.
Withdrawals At Steep Costs
Ever since the difficulty in withdrawals began to brew in July, users who have managed to make withdrawals claim they did so at a steep cost. Investors were only able to withdraw Tether’s USDT, namecoin (NMC), peercoin (PPC), and Zcash (ZEC). Users who wish to withdraw on the platform have to purchase these cryptocurrencies, but their prices are quite expensive that it might not be worth it, at the end.
Apart from these, the prices of other cryptocurrencies have been escalated on WEX. While the general market price for bitcoin is put at $6,405, it is trading on WEX at $8,602 while ether is trading at $309 while other exchanges are trading it at roughly $204.