Sameer Ismail, the chief compliance officer at crypto finance firm Uphold, has been fired amid accusations of fraud.
What Happened: According to a Friday Coindesk report, Uphold said Ismail “wrongfully and fraudulently misdirected” corporate and user funds totaling £516,242 — equivalent to about $730,500.
Ismail denied the accusations and in turn accused the firm of making a retaliatory attack against him.
“I categorically disagree. It’s messy. This allegation of theirs was directly in response to me filing a breach of contract against them,” he said.
All the funds reportedly have been replaced.
Possible Missed Warning Signs: Before working at Uphold, Ismail held the position of chief compliance officer at cryptocurrency exchange Luno and chief risk officer at crypto exchange Coinify. He was also previously hired by the Financial Conduct Authority to talk about financial crime and hold numerous panels about cryptocurrency regulation, according to Coindesk.
“Bad actors are often difficult to contend with, but we were, with the help of our regulator, able to uncover Mr. Ismail’s deception before he was able to do any significant damage,” an Uphold spokesperson told the news outlet. “We took prompt legal action against Mr. Ismail and reported his actions to the appropriate regulators and police. We engaged a forensic investigator and conducted a thorough review of our policies and procedures.”
Luno also confirmed that there had been a case involving Ismail and issues around expenses on a company credit card. While Luno does “not in general comment on individual employee matters” it wanted to clarify that no customer funds were affected as “the issue involved personal expense claims on a company credit card.” The case was resolved in late 2020 when a court ruled in the company’s favor.
An anonymous licensed private investigator has also gone as far as to suggest that Ismail is “something of an expert when it comes to falsifying documents.” He reportedly photoshopped a fake seizure order from the U.K.’s National Crime Agency for £103,000 and also created a fake invoice for a crypto asset license from the FCA for £10,000.
“This is the tip of the iceberg,” The investigator said. “He used a number of methods such as creating fake email trails from customers requesting for their crypto to be sent to external wallets. These wallets were in fact controlled by Sameer.”