As Hong Kong police investigate allegations of fraud against cryptocurrency trading platform JPEX after investors complained of HK$1.3bn ($166m; £134m) in losses, Dubai’s virtual asset regulator VARA has alerted the public to the fact that JPEX is not regulated nor under VARA supervision.

JPEX on its website states, “At present, the JPEX operating headquarters is located in Dubai. As the financial hub of the Middle East, Dubai is the only global economy with an independent regulatory environment. Its newly established Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) is bound by the international regulatory framework. Under the supervision of VARA, The trading system established by JPEX has stricter regulatory standards and more transparency and openness in cross-border transactions, thereby ensuring the integrity of the global market.”

Eleven people, including popular influencers, were arrested this week after complaints filed by 2,000 people. The case could be one of Hong Kong’s biggest fraud cases, local media say.

Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) is issuing this Alert to call the attention of all investors and market participants, to recent media coverage of regulatory action that is being considered and/or has been initiated against the Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) JPEX and/or associated companies within the holding group [operational through] and specific individuals associated with these entities.

VARA clarifies that JPEX is an unregulated operation. As VARA states, “JPEX is not regulated by or registered with VARA, and any VA Activity being carried out or offered by this entity, whether in/from the Emirate of Dubai or otherwise, has not been permitted or otherwise authorised by VARA.

False claims: Any claims by JPEX and any responsible individuals that it is regulated by VARA, or that it is subject to VARA’s oversight, are entirely false and inaccurate. Further, Law No. 4 of 2022 deems all VA activities in/from the Emirate to be are fully regulated, and under the purview of VARA – as such, should JPEX be performing any of these activities, it is operating in breach of Dubai Law.”

The notice adds that JPEX has also not been approved by VARA, and JPEX is hence not permitted to offer, promote or advertise any of its products or services, or solicit any client participation, in or from the Emirate of Dubai.

Customers may wish to notify VARA at  if they have been (i) the subject of any of JPEX’s solicitation/promotional activities; or (ii) if any of JPEX’s services have been made available to them specifically from Dubai.

VARA concludes that it will monitor the situation and may take enforcement actions against JPEX and any responsible individuals as may be warranted subject to evidenced wrongdoing.

This is the second time VARA takes action against a crypto exchange, OPNX was the first.