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Craig Wright’s wife Ramona Ang sues UFX operator Reliantco for $3M in Bitcoin losses and wins first court battle

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In an interesting lawsuit against the broker platform UFX and its operator Reliantco Investments Ltd, Ramona Ang the wife of Craig Wright – the man who claims to be the Bitcoin inventor behind the synonym Satoshi Nakamoto – claims that she lost $3 million worth of Bitcoin after her trading account on UFX was wrongfull suspended and closed.

The Court Case

According to the court documents, Ang opened her account with UFX.com in January 2017 and invested approximately $200,000 from her personal funds. Ang was required to click a button to indicate that she accepted UFX‘s (Reliantco‘s) terms and conditions, which included an exclusive jurisdiction clause in favor of the Cyprus courts.

The claim arose from the alleged blocking of access to Ang’s account by UFX (Reliantco) in August 2017 and its subsequent refusal to allow her to withdraw funds from the UFX platform. Ang alleged that Reliantco should compensate her for the loss of her open bitcoin positions, which she claimed in August 2017 equated to approximately $1.1 million and, at the time of commencing the legal proceedings, would have been in excess of $3 million.

Consequently, Ramona Ang claims that Reliantco “wrongfully blocked and terminated her account and should compensate her for the losses of her open Bitcoin positions” and filed her lawsuit in the UK.

UFX and ParagonEX

UFX is part of the ParagonEX network of companies and brand around the Israeli Forex veterans Haim Toledano, Saar Pilosof and the Dutch Dennis-Hendrik de Jong. Several regulators in North America, Australia, and Europe issued investor warnings against UFX and its operators UFX Global Limited, UFX Markets Global Inc, and Reliantco Investments Ltd.

Currently, ParagonEX is doing a reverse takeover with the NASDAQ-listed MICT Ing. Read the FinTelegram report here.

Reliantco’s Challenge of Jurisdiction

Ang issued proceedings in England, her country of residence. UFX (Reliantco) challenged the jurisdiction of the English court on the basis of the exclusive jurisdiction clause and Article 25 of the recast EU Brussels Regulation. Ang claimed that the exclusive jurisdiction clause was ineffective and did not require her to bring the claim in Cyprus because:

  • she was a ‘consumer’ within the meaning of Section 4 (Articles 17 to 19) of the recast EU Brussels Regulation; or
  • the jurisdiction clause was not incorporated into her contract with Reliantco in such a way as to satisfy the requirements of Article 25.

Ang claimed that she had received hyperlinks to Reliantco’s terms and conditions (which included the exclusive jurisdiction clause), but that they did not work, such that they took her to an error page.

Important Court Decision – Reliantco’s jurisdiction challenge dismissed

On April 12, 2019, the UK High Court judge Andrew Baker rejected Reliantco’s jurisdiction challenge ( Case No: CL-2018-00038). The judge held that the contract between Ang and UFX (Reliantco) fell within Article 17 of the recast EU Brussels Regulation and Ang contracted with Reliantco as a consumer. The fact that Ang was wealthy and had some knowledge of the investment did not preclude her from being a consumer. She was therefore entitled to commence proceedings in her country of domicile, despite the exclusive jurisdiction clause.

This judgment is interesting for the thousands of victims of unauthorized broker schemes. In case a private investor is a consumer for the purposes of the recast EU Brussels Regulation.

The EU Regulation provides special rules for insurance, consumer and employment contracts which may permit the “weaker party” to these contracts – i.e. insurance policyholders, consumers, and employees – to sue in their state of domicile. The special protection these articles provide has as a main effect the broadening of the domicile of the ‘stronger’ party, so that the ‘weaker’ party, has an increased range of locations for suing the first, while at the same time not allowing this broadened sense of domicile the other way around.

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