The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently added three names to its suit over a $30 million Initial Coin Offering (ICO) led by wily Canadian crim Boaz Manor.
The SEC alleges Ali Asif Hamid, Michael Gietz, and Cristine Page had leading roles in the fraudulent Blockchain Terminal ICO that ran throughout 2017 and 2018.
- The initial lawsuit named Boaz Manor and business associate Edit Pardo.
- Manor operated under the name Shaun MacDonald to hide a previous prison stint for fraud.
- SEC agents now say Hamid, Gietz, and Page were aware of Manor’s false identity.
In 2012, Ontario court sentenced Manor to four years’ prison for spearheading a fraudulent hedge fund worth nearly $800 million at its peak.
According to the SEC’s 2020 release, Manor allegedly told certain investors he’d hidden his true identity as Blockchain Terminal would’ve been “destroyed” if his criminal past was disclosed.
Authorities charged the trio with “violating and aiding and abetting violations of the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws and with violating securities registration requirements.”
A terminal investment
By buying Boaz’ BCT token, hundreds of investors thought they were funding special crypto trading terminals a la Bloomberg Terminal.
- Hedge funds were supposed to buy the machines.
- Blockchain Terminal said 20 were being tested in the wild.
- The SEC alleged Manor only sent out 12, which recipients never paid for (or even used).
According to an advertorial from March 2018, Blockchain Terminal enabled “hedge funds to buy and sell cryptocurrency without compromising on compliance standards.”
“Learning about the identity and background of the individual or individuals behind a venture is one of the first things we tell investors to do before trusting anyone with their money,” said the SEC’s Market Abuse Unit lead Joseph G. Sansone last year.
“Manor’s brazen scheme to conceal his identity and criminal history deprived investors of essential information and allowed the defendants to take over $30 million from investors’ pockets,” he added (our emphasis).
Hide the ginger, hide the Manor
Manor pushed the phoney idea that his business partner Pardo was in charge of Blockchain Terminal. However, The Block in December 2018 revealed who really led the ICO.
“I googled Boaz Manor and I said ‘holy shit.’ Not for a second did I think it was anyone but him,” said a hedge funder who’d beta-tested Blockchain Terminal (quote via The Block).
- Manor served a year before day parole over misappropriating $100 million from his hedge fund.
- His Portus Alternative Asset Management fund collapsed in 2005.
- Quebec also banned Manor from the Canadian securities sector.
The SEC is now seeking “disgorgement of ill-gotten gains plus interest, penalties, and injunctive relief” from the five now named in the suit.
However, Page has already agreed to settle with regulators. Subject to court approval, Page will forfeit digital assets received from the ICO and pay a civil penalty of nearly $193,000.