Customers of Valartis, a Chinese-owned Liechtenstein bank, were told by unknown blackmailers that they must pay a portion of their account balances in Bitcoin or face their personal details being sent to to financial watchdogs and the media, according to German tabloid Bild.
Unknown hackers found their way into the Liechtenstein’s e-banking system this week and managed to obtain a ton of sensitive information on payment orders, parent companies and bank customers, most of whom reside in Germany.
The bank’s CEO Fong Chi Wah said in a statement: “The attacker did not obtain details of the account statement or asset data and possible affected customers have already been informed by the bank.” However, for now it is difficult to collect the exact details, as Valartis Bank Liechtenstein refuses to respond to media inquiries. In addition, Valartis seems to be very secretive about its customer details, as they want to preserve anonymity above anything else.
The hackers are reportedly demanding that victims pay a ransom of 10 percent of their account balances, to be sent in Bitcoin to help preserve anonymity, before December 7. If Valartis really accepts the blackmailers’ demands, the cryptocurrency price could see a strong spike over the coming days.
Earlier this year, Valartis Finance Holding AG sold the majority of its shares in Valartis Bank (Liechtenstein) AG, the sixth largest bank in Liechtenstein, to Hong Kong Stock Exchange listed Citychamp Watch & Jewellery Group Ltd. Valartis Bank Liechtenstein is located in the tiny Alpine principality sandwiched between Austria and Switzerland.
It is rather interesting to note that, according to Bild, the bank’s clientele includes politicians, actors and high net worth individuals. The blackmailers are obviously acting on the assumption that such high-profile customers have something to hide and they are attempting to extort them since they may have used Valartis to evade taxes.