Strange things are allegedly afoot at Blockchain Terminal (BCT)
What do a ghost named MacDonald, a CNBC crypto-show host and a trading terminal have in common?
The Blockchain Terminal ICO raised $31 million to bring professional traders a Bloomberg terminal for the crypto world. It was a big project with some big names behind it, attracting a lot of interest from several corners.
But now, an investigative report published in The Block alleges that the project was headed up from behind the scenes by Boaz Manor – a Canadian former hedge fund manager who was sentenced to four years in prison in 2012 after misappropriating millions in investor funds – and has all but stalled out.
That's not the strange part.
To abbreviate the story as the report tells it:
Boaz was pulling the strings from behind the scenes under the alias Shaun MacDonald and posing as an over-involved investor rather than a staff member.
Things were going well in that BCT was raking in a fortune through token sales, but it didn't have all that much to show for it, and the project's doers eventually left to do other things.
Boaz eventually revealed his identity to the remaining staff, and they were staying on under the knowledge that BCT wasn't necessarily the most above-board project.
With things now seemingly falling apart, and Boaz allegedly being at the head of the project under an alter ago, some people are starting to wonder whether this will turn into a criminal issue.
It's worth noting that the terminal isn't the main product here – the BCT token itself is, which operates as kind of an access and utility token for the terminal. So it looks like the terminals have generally been pushed at traders and influencers for free in the hope that they'll use it themselves and persuade others to start.
And there's at least one person who says the terminal does actually work. Whether it's a sufficiently enthralling product to support BCT token valuations is another question.
Either way, the token doesn't trade on any exchanges, and people are reportedly unable to redeem it through BCT as was promised. So a lot of money went into BCT, and perhaps not enough value is coming out the other end.
One of the stickier parts might be the alleged involvement of Ran NeuNer, host of a CNBC crypto show. He previously endorsed the terminal project, and said he invested in it. Others have suggested his involvement was deeper, and that he was more of a team member than an investor, citing examples of him referring to BCT as "we" and other evidence.
However, he's hit out at the report from The Block, complaining that he wasn't contacted. But he's also described BCT as a "fraud."
This is probably the worst case of inaccuracy I have ever read. Especially given the fact that I lost a ton of my own cash investing in this fraud. @lawmaster and @TheBlock__ - you could/should have pinged me for the facts before you published. https://t.co/qQlLvRWL92
— Ran Neuner (Non fungible) (@cryptomanran) December 10, 2018
But wait, there's more
A conversation between Shaun MacDonald – who is actually Boaz Manor if all this is to be believed – and Ran NeuNer has allegedly been leaked. Although there's no proof of it being real and neither party has confirmed that it is, perhaps because their lawyers would throw an absolute fit if either did.
You're going to be arrested like any other criminal." - MacDonald to NeuNer (allegedly)
The background to the somewhat hostile conversation seems to be that NeuNer wants back the money he invested in BCT, describing the entire thing as a scam.
However, MacDonald is having none of it. He accuses NeuNer of repeated blackmail attempts and defrauding investors, and pointedly tells NeuNer that he's going to end up behind bars. But NeuNer repeatedly claims to be safely outside the bounds of the law in South Africa. He's very insistent on that point.
At one point, MacDonald suggests that BCT has been dealing with the impact of an ongoing fraud investigation for months. This might be why BCT seems to have dried up and gone quiet a few months ago.
Eventually NeuNer seems to convince MacDonald that he had nothing to do with any of this. It looks like they end up agreeing that the piece in The Block was orchestrated by a competitor who passed on fake information while claiming to be an insider at BCT.
The competing brand in question is said to be headed up by Oz Sultan – formerly the head of crypto products at BCT. They then start discussing plans to sue people for the damages resulting from the story.
Yes, they're building a competing terminal with source code they stole from BCT. Yes, they are murdering you - so there is no one to sue them... Now please get me out. Don't care about their stupid terminal, I just want out ok???" - NeuNer to MacDonald (allegedly)
In the end, Ran NeuNer seems to suggest that BCT should take legal action against the competition, and he appears to provide some supporting material which could help MacDonald to that end. NeuNer's seeming involvement in these competing terminal brands seems like something he very much wants to step away from.
But even if you accept the legitimacy of the conversation at face value, and accept that both parties were being honest with each other and basically accept that the entire story was just part of a big PR campaign which involved throwing The Block under the bus, you have to start considering things like the following:
- Why did Ran NeuNer explicitly call BCT a "fraud" on Twitter?
- NeuNer and MacDonald say the competing company that they think is behind this fake news is headed up by former BCT employees. The piece in The Block cites former employees. That The Block's piece might be part of a PR smear campaign doesn't necessarily invalidate the allegations it makes.
- If Shaun MacDonald isn't Boaz Manor, then who is he? Why hasn't BCT named him as part of the team and what's his seemingly quite eventful relationship with NeuNer?
- This entire saga would make a decent movie. It can quote MacDonald saying "This isn't the movies, Ran".
- Is the allegedly leaked conversation below even real? As they say, you can't believe everything you read.
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