Companies and organizations in the field of cryptocurrencies have been trying hard to go mainstream, despite the significant losses incurred over the bear run that occurred over the past few months. One of the largest crypto-companies making headlines almost regularly is Consensys. According to new reports, the Joseph Lubin-founded organization is seeking $200 million from investors and venture capitalists to complete its pipeline projects.
The Ethereum [ETH]-based company’s objective to complete the investment round comes in the wake of reports which state that Consensys managed to generate only $21 million in revenue, a marked difference from its earlier projections. There have also been rumors of the company asking for a $1 billion valuation, a figure that raised eyebrows amongst the crypto-community, with many rooting for the idea that “Consensys was worth far less”.
The Joseph Lubin-led company’s decision to ask for more funding was taken a few months after the Ethereum co-founder said that employees would be laid off as “the blockchain space had become too competitive and crowded”. The comment was made in December 2018, at the same time when Lubin talked about the different directions that Consensys planned to take with its developments. He said:
“We are creating transitions for some projects that we believe don’t fit as well into the ConsenSys 2.0 vision as they did in ConsenSys 1.0, and we are working on ways to continue to support these projects going forward as we sketch plans for a ConsenSys alumni network. We continue to invest in external projects, and continue to hire for internal projects that remain core to our forward-looking business.”
Consensys is best known for incubating projects like Civil, a media company based on the blockchain that was created to reduce bias and increase journalistic integrity. Joseph Lubin had earlier claimed that Civil would include “game-changing” features like live tie-ups with media houses and permanent archiving of stories so that none are lost to technological or human errors.
Lubin had also grabbed headlines when he stated that the field of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies was seeing a good spike in interest. Calling the crypto-verse a “new trust infrastructure”, Lubin commented:
“Instead of relying on intermediaries to provide trust, in different situations, in different industries, content creators or service providers or resource providers can directly access and interact with their consumers.”
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QuadrigaCX Curtain Call Part 3: Private Jets, yachts, a major bombshell and maybe a biopic?
Ernst and Young, the audit giant, the court-appointed third-party monitor and now the bankruptcy trustee of the QuadrigaCX proceedings, released its fifth report on the QuadrigaCX episode. Part 1 & 2 of AMBCrypto’s coverage can be found here, and here.
Gerald Cotten did what any fraudster would do; swipe all the money from his business, use it to enrich himself and his family and fail to pay anyone affected. The monitor was unable to ascertain any “records in respect to fees or compensation” paid to anyone by the exchange. Further, Cotten did not file tax returns in 2014, 2015 and 2017. However, in his statements from 2016, no income from QuadrigaCX was claimed.
The report identified several fiat transfers between Cotten and his wife, Jennifer Robertson, and the duo acquired significant “real and personal property” either personally, or via third-party corporations. Cotten and Robertson also frequented various vacation destinations using private jet services. No other income apart from the funds emanating from QuadrigaCX was used for these lavish adventures, the report said,
“The Monitor has been advised that neither Mr. Cotten nor his wife had any material source of income other than funds received from Quadriga.”
An Asset Preservation Order placed on Robertson and her property by the monitor in April listed out the assets as real properties in Nova Scotia and British Colombia, securities, cash holdings, a “personal sailing vessel,” a “personal aircraft, “several luxury vehicles,” and gold and silver coins with a total value of $12 million.
Evan Thomas, a commercial litigator who delved deep into the QuadrigaCX case, stated that the ability of the exchange and its CEO to carry out such fraudulent acts right under the noses of the authorities and its customers stemmed from its lax internal governance. Cotten made sure that the administrative activities would not be logged. The litigator stated,
“Quadriga apparently had no internal controls or accounting records, no segregation of customer assets from Quadriga’s assets, and no visibility into its own profitability, ever.”
On the topic of the funds’ movement between QuadrigaCX and the aforementioned unnamed exchanges, Thomas stated that Cotten may have used fake accounts under pseudonyms to avoid suspicion and then credited these accounts with fiat and cryptocurrencies which were then “used to trade against the Quadriga users.”
Thomas stressed the link between the Markay account and the competitor exchanges where Gerald Cotten was known to control accounts under different names. He stated,
“Again, these withdrawals were primarily to other exchanges where Cotten held accounts in his name or to other parties trading with Cotten personally. Some of the transfers were to wallets controlled by unknown parties.”
Succinctly summarizing the entire QuadrigaCX debacle, Thomas concluded,
“The biggest bombshell, foreshadowed in earlier reports, is that Cotten set up fake accounts, funded them with hundreds of millions of dollars of fiat and crypto that didn’t exist, bought real crypto from users and then moved the crypto off Quadriga.”
QuadrigaCX has been a tale like no other, or every other, depending on how deep and detached you are from the world of financial frauds. It has been the ideal scam; man sets up a fake business, takes in millions of dollars worth of funds, scatters the funds in different pools under anonymous names, enriches himself and his family, before the mastermind behind it all dies, leaving the authorities clutching thin air.
Who knows? A QuadrigaCX biopic might be in the works with Ryan Gosling (Another Canadian) in the lead. Martin Scorsese should be licking his lips now.
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