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Corruption, Crypto and Cartels Part IV

For the finale, let us show you where the Part I – III have been leading.  Though this is not the end of the “rabbit holes” we have been following, it is the point where we felt comfortable to really form a solid hypothesis of what is going on based on all of the data we have found.  

Bank frauds

As of April 30th, 2019, two individuals were charged with bank fraud in connections to cryptocurrency exchanges. Court documents released by the Justice Department reported that the alleged money services businesses operated between February and October 2018. It is interesting to note that this is within the same time frame as when Bitfinex saw $850mil disappear. Prosecutors say during this time, the two “opened and used numerous bank accounts at financial institutions that were insured by the [FDIC]”. [1]

Two of the bank accounts named in the court document are allegedly held under the name Global Trading Solutions LLC, one apiece from HSBC Bank USA and HSBC Securities USA/Pershing LLC.

Global Trading Solutions LLC is tied to licensed financial institution Global Trade Solutions AG. Global Trade Solutions is the parent company of CryptoCapital, and is cited as parent company on CryptoCapital’s website.

The two individuals are Reginald (Reggie) Fowler, former co-owner of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, and Ravid Yosef, from Tel Aviv, Israel. Both have been charged by the Southern District of New York (SDNY) with bank fraud and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Fowler is also accused of running an unlicensed money transmission business and conspiracy related to its operations.

Global Trading Solutions LLC, owned by Fowler, was directly connected to CryptoCapital. As written in the indictment, Fowler and Yosef obtained bank accounts after “falsely representing to those banks that the accounts would be primarily used for real estate investment transactions even though Fowler, Yosef, and others used them to transmit funds on behalf of an unlicensed money transmitting business related to the operation of cryptocurrency exchanges.”

The others in that quote includes CryptoCapital, or rather the Swiss-based Global Trade Solutions AG that runs its operations. Both bank accounts, including the one at HSBC, was used by CryptoCapital to process fiat deposits for Bitfinex. Global Trading Solutions LLC also had multiple bank accounts at Citibank, Enterprise Bank & Trust and Wells Fargo; all used by CryptoCapital. 

Fowler additionally co-owns two Portuguese companies through which, CryptoCapital also used to processed fiat withdrawals for Bitfinex. 

As the indictment clarifies, Fowler and Yosef opened numerous bank U.S. accounts under false pretenses. The indictment further presents a list of bank accounts at HSBC, either in the name of Global Trading Solutions LLC or directly in Fowler’s name, from which the funds were seized by the U.S. Government.

This seems to confirm the statements that the $850mil Bitfinex funds were not lost, but were in fact held by the authorities.

The multitude of bank accounts in the name of Global Trading Solutions LLC, and used by CryptoCapital, provides insights and understanding into how Fowler attempted to obfuscate his association with Global Trading Solutions LLC.

For further affirmation, the address of the known HSBC accounts matches the address in Chandler, Ariz. where Global Trading Solutions LLC is registered. Yet the property at that address, a sports complex, is officially owned by another company that is related to Fowler.

As the cryptocurrency publication The Block elaborates more into the story, another bank account at Wells Fargo is listed with an address in Tampa, Fla. That address lists a different company called NLE Consulting, whose registry documents includes Fowler as an officer. CryptoCapital has used the account for its own customers, but there is no indication that it was used to process any Bitfinex fiat deposits or withdrawals. Fowler also used an address in Huntington Beach, Calif. to obtain an account at Citibank. However, no other company is registered at the listed address.

Due to the result of certain AML and financial crimes investigations by the United States’ FBI and cooperative international law enforcement and/or regulatory agencies, according to a letter Ivan Molina published in December of 2018, Global Trade Solutions and related entities have been denied banking services in the U.S, EU and other international locations.

In the same letter, Ivan confirms the account seizures at HSBC in London, as well as bank accounts in the U.S being frozen and blocked, and banking services and access terminated. He also referenced the article by The Block, reporting the use of Global Trading Solutions LLC’s services for depositing funds to Bitfinex.

At this point, it’s not too much of a stretch to assume the same shady approach was used for most, if not all, of CryptoCapital’s affiliated companies to operate under similar questionable structures. (, QuadrigaCX, other dead/sketchy companies).

When there is this much evidence and association, it can no longer be brushed off as coincidence.

Additional Sources

Two Charged With Running ‘Shadow Banking’ Service for Crypto Exchanges

Indictment reveals new clues in the Crypto Capital situation

Corruption, Crypto and Cartels, Part III

This is where the pieces come together. Have you noticed how often Bitfinex has been referenced in this story? It doesn’t feel like a coincidence.  

Tether (USDT)

Aside from the multiple incidences of hacks and lost funds, Bitfinex also still have to answer for their sister company’s controversies, Tether. It is no secret that Bitfinex and Tether have received subpoenas from U.S regulators. [1]

Speculations that Bitfinex has been “operating a fractional reserve and is covering over its reserve deficit in complicity with Bitfinex” has existed since early 2017. These allegations are nothing new. [2]

And remember when Bitfinex and CryptoCapital supposedly severed official relations? Not even a few months later, Bitfinex is still associated with CryptoCapital, and the relationship has not improved for the better. 

According to statements in April 26, 2018, Bitfinex sent $850 million of customer and corporate funds to CryptoCapital Corp., and along the way it was “lost”. Representatives of Bitfinex and Tether reported to the NY Attorney General’s office that CryptoCapital claims the funds were seized by Portugese, Polish, and American government officials.

An official confirmation submitted by Bitfinex stated that their respondents did not believe CryptoCapital’s representations that the funds have been seized.

Meanwhile, the $850 million loss severely impaired Bitfinex’s ability to process funds and withdrawal requests as “CryptoCapital, which held all or almost all of Bitfinex’s funds, refused to process customer withdrawal requests and refused or was unable to return any funds to Bitfinex.”

This clearly caused Bitfinex major difficulties and processing delays, despite official denials from the company’s representatives.

Allegedly, funds from Tether’s reserve were then used to make up the shortfall, but neither the loss nor Tether’s fund movements were disclosed to customers and investors. If true, this would very much validate the speculations of 2017. [3]

It is also a testament to the fact that CryptoCapital has never had a good public reputation. CryptoCapital never had the performance track record of being the most reliable financial processor either. Complaints regarding speed and reliability has been a common occurrence and regularly affects related exchanges. It is very questionable how they earned the reputability needed to associate with such a wide network of exchanges. [4]

It would also explain Bitfinex’s history of hostility towards critics, especially ones who would question the secrecy of their banking processes, unsurprisingly. The company is known to respond defensively to negative comments by threatening accusers with legal litigation, instead of transparency. [5]

But not just Bitfinex, remember that CryptoCapital’s very well connected network. Their website names among its customers the now-defunct QuadrigaCX and Coinapult, among others. And according to the Wayback Machine, past customers also included exchanges like Kraken, BTCC and Bitt.

Yet it seems as time progresses, the number of CryptoCapital’s allies dwindle.

Most have met their ends under questionable circumstances. Not just exchanges such as QuadrigaCX and Coinapult (whose office was reportedly across the hall from CryptoCapital), but internal members as well in more recent times.

Next week, we will conclude and discuss the implications of the entire picture.












Corruption, Crypto and Cartels, Part II

Laundering money is one of the hardest things for cartels to do…so we are told.  As Part 2 unfolds,  we dig into the “potential” cartel involvement and start to paint the larger picture of how this is all intertwined together.  

Cartel association

On April 7th of 2018, reports originating from Poland sources informed readers that Polish prosecutors seized €400 mil from two companies, referred to as company M and company C, involving a long link of individuals and eventually leading to Bitfinex; and potential association to cartel involvements.

[1] The story began when the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was in the process of building a new embassy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Company M, owned by a Canadian of Panamanian descent, impersonated the building contractor and intercepted the $400mil payment. Through an investigation with Interpol, it was revealed that company M was associated with company C, owned by a Colombian with Panamanian citizenship, who was in turn associated with a large online exchange of cryptocurrencies.

Polish authorities reported that the two companies specialize in money laundering. “The scale of financial operations indicates that these bills were to hide money from smuggling cocaine to Europe. The companies were also used for large scale scams. Criminals have hidden their operations, also exchanging money for cryptocurrencies, obliterating traces.”

The funds from the two companies were deposited at a branch of one of the banks in the accounts of the two companies registered in Poland, which is coincidentally the Banku Spółdzielczym w Skierniewicach – the bank where Bitfinex is registered. Surprise!

A forum user admitted to being a interrogated witness in the case, and that the company has paid them used a Bitfinex account, further strengthening the allegations. [2]

Now why would Bitfinex need to pay a witness? And what does that have to do with CryptoCapital? [4]

Members of CryptoCapital Management

Well, when Bitfinex opened its Polish bank account in Nov 2017 with the reported intention of trading euro pairs, the company name under the account was registered as Crypto SP, and as located in Panama. This company, Crypto SP, is owned by Crypto Capital Corp, the director of which is the very same Ivan Manuel Molina Lee.

But according to them? Nothing! CryptoCapital has since denied affiliations to the scandals and associated materials, contents, and media related to Bitfinex has subsequently been removed. This was not the first incidence of CryptoCapital removing bad publicity either. [3]

So the reality is we have two companies known for money laundering putting their cash into the same bank as Bitfinex.  Furthermore, one of the owners of these companies is affiliated with a large online exchange and also has Panamanian citizenship, where CryptoCapital is based out of.

If you think the picture can’t be clearer, wait for Part 3…






Cryptocurrency’s Adoption Dilemma

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts are 20 months beyond the greatest bull-run in crypto-history, with all time highs recorded and reported for nearly every single existing alt-coin and Bitcoin available at the time.

Fast forward to April, 2019; Brazil starts to buy Bitcoin en masse, on the heels of Venezuela opting for Litecoin just a few months earlier, as South American currencies experience waves of inflation on the global stage, driving no-coiners to the market at scale for a brief period of time. Cryptocurrency, seen as a safe haven against the politics of government-run fiat currency problems, is one of the best, if not the best, use cases for immutable digital-currency.

Bitcoin and Litecoin saw monumental bounce backs from the market downturn of 2018. Bitcoin is up nearly 400% in 2019, Litecoin hitting triple digits for the first time in what seemed like forever, and people all around the crypto-sphere start chanting “altseason, altseason… bull market”, but where’s the new money? Where’s the consumer adoption?

Outside of the BRL and Venezuela in the first 2 quarters of 2019, fiat currency pairs for Bitcoin volume, day in and day out, have been strikingly Tether/Stable coin-centric. More than 50% of all transactions in crypto have been from another “crypto”. Looking at data aggregates, such as, tells a pretty clear story – the top 10 trading pairs for Bitcoin? Tether ($USDT).

54% by our last measurement for the summer of 2019 thus far.

With alts consuming another 25-30% of the volume as they continue to bleed red more often than not as Bitcoin’s dominance stays above 65%, market-wide.

That leaves a meager, best case average, of just 21% for fiat currencies to consume the 24 hour volume in the cryptocurrency markets. During a market adoption cycle, Tether would be, easily 10 points lower, and fiat would account for well over a third of the influx of cryptocurrency consumption, but here we are.

Factoring in the breakdown of which fiats are responsible for what in their little slice of the cryptocurrency volume:

Of course, the US Dollar is reigning, hand over fist, above all others, with the South Korean Wan coming in second. It would be expected to see larger volumes of CNY and EU, AUD, and JPY in the mix, alas, these seem quieter than typically expected. It raises the question, where’s the adoption?

With Bitcoin being over $10,000 – without a higher stake of fiat injection, it begs a few questions, actually:

  • Where’s the actual adoption?
  • If new fiat isn’t coming in to consume Bitcoin, how is the price over $10,000?
  • Why is Tether so heavily seen as the primary driver of Bitcoin volume?

Personally, I’m a fan of Occam’s Razor, and the simplest solution is typically a path walked by a greedy few. Bitcoin needed to be over $10,000 USD for free press to hopefully entice new adoption, new no-coiners, making the flip into Crypto, injecting fiat currency at scale, therefore… it is. Thankfully a number of individuals who are “chums” in the space, like the owners of Tether, the owner/operators of exchanges, and payment gateways have things like smartphones where collaboration can occur with relative ease to fabricate market conditions at little-to-no cost to the makers of the market at scale, if things are done correctly, and by the looks of it… they are.

As for someone who tends to wield a consumer-trend-analysis hammer all day, the consumer class currently propping up the price of Bitcoin to help re-establish it’s reputation and power in the financial sectors is typical big kid with a magnifying glass over an ant-hill rubbish.

Granted, I’m not calling for a bull or bear market, the algo/bots being run right now to prop the market up make it pretty easy to spot a trend and a movement long-term in the space. It’s why the SynQ I/O team was able to project May 2019 with 88% accuracy for 192 consecutive 4 hour bars, day over day… and we did it again in June. Here’s the projection we published August 5th, 2019 to our SynQ UP community: