Billionaire bitcoin exchange CEO kidnapped in Kiev

Here’s an event that makes bitcoin strange and scary to most of its potential investors.

Pavel Lerner, the CEO EXMO, a UK-based cryptocurrency exchange, was kidnapped in Kiev.

Lerner, 40, was grabbed off the street by a group of armed men wearing ski masks driving a black Mercedes-Benz as he left his Kiev office on December 26.

Lerner’s company issued a statement requesting “any information regarding his whereabouts,” while telling its customers that Lerner had no knowledge of any  personal data or bitcoin code stored on the exchange.

“Any information regarding his whereabouts is very much appreciated. Despite the situation, the exchange is working as usual. We also want to stress that nature of Pavel’s job at EXMO doesn’t assume access either to storages or any personal data of users. All users funds are absolutely safe,” the company said in a statement to Russia Today.

Lerner, a bitcoin billionaire, was in Kiev to meet with his cryptocurrency mining operations as well as other blockchain technology firms.

This is the dark web type of news most investors can’t wrap their minds around. When you invest in a company on the stock exchange the last thing that would figure into your investment would be what happens if the CEO is kidnapped?

I agree there are bad actors, like a Bernie Madoffs, however these events are few and far between.

Over the last three years bitcoin has seen too many exchanges hacked and lost investors money. I can’t even think how many bogus ICOs have busted investors with highly questionable white papers.

I’m not sure how you regulate a non-regulated asset, but stories like Lerner’s will dampen broader investor buy-in to the cryptocurrency markets.

UPDATE:

The Financial Times is reporting that Lerner has been released after paying a ransom of more than $1M in bitcoins, according to an adviser to the Ukrainian interior minister.

 

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