Blockchain Terminal, a blockchain startup that promised a cryptocurrency version of the Bloomberg Terminal, was all a lie, according to a report from The Block.
The CEO of the company, Shaun MacDonald, turned out to be a convicted fraudster named Boaz Manor, in disguise.
What’s in the box?
The Bloomberg Terminal, a software system used to monitor financial market data and execute trades, is the financial media company’s most successful product. It is used by most large major financial companies.
Blockchain Terminal, which is based in the Cayman Islands, offers (according to its website):
– financial information about the cryptocurrency market at a Wall Street-level, drawn from 165 exchanges.
– a cryptocurrency exchange (“Execute trades at guaranteed lowest prices”)
– a cryptocurrency wallet service (“Store up to 1,500 currencies”)
I went to Blockchain Terminal today and had a demo of the system. It’s really advanced and has many tools. It also has a total market depth tool across all exchanges.
If you are a serious trader that trades for a fund or a large portfolio tweet me and we may send you a screen. pic.twitter.com/4uRt3MlEkT
— Ran NeuNer (@cryptomanran) June 15, 2018
For $999 customers receive their starter kit of an HD terminal, a wireless mouse and keyboard, and a private key on a USB device.
Installed as its president was one Bob Bonomo, a hedge-fund man and member of the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance.
A cryptocurrency version of the Bloomberg service was welcomed with excitement if all the pictures of mobbed representatives at various blockchain conferences are anything to go by. More to the point, the company made $30 million when it opened.
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We’re swarmed at Crypto Invest Summit LA and the excitement for the Blockchain Terminal can’t be denied. Thanks to our friends at DNA Fund @thisIsDNA for hooking us up! @cryptoinvestsmt pic.twitter.com/CjfSj2sCCy
— Blockchain Terminal (@BCTerminal) May 1, 2018
A former employee told The Block: “It looked like a real startup. There were real bones and real capital.” It was even welcomed in Malta:
The Malta Stock Exchange is now an official beta tester of The Blockchain Terminal! A huge moment for #BCT as #Malta is fast becoming a mainstay in the #Cryptocurrency #Trading Community! #crypto #blockchain #bitcoin #ethereum pic.twitter.com/6WsRvmuH1K
— Blockchain Terminal (@BCTerminal) June 20, 2018
However, the product apparently was not there. Several sources told The Block that they had been sent the hardware in order to test it, but never sent people to set them up. Manor, with dyed hair and a new beard, secretly ran the business under his new identity. Sources say that employees were “pushed out” if they showed too much interest in him. One hedge fund manager recognised him; according to The Block, he said: “As soon as I saw that picture of Boaz I just about shit my pants.”
Manor, who was born in Israel, is known in Canada for spending four years in jail for fraud. He set up a hedge fund called Portus Alternative Asset Management in 2003, promising investors guaranteed returns. It shortly became one of Canada’s biggest hedge funds, thanks in part to a deal with the country’s biggest life insurance firm, Manulife Financial, which referred clients for a fee, according to The Star.
After a two-year investigation, Canadian authorities froze the operation, having concluded that $103 million had been misappropriated. Notably, amongst his purchases were diamonds, which have never been found. Manor fled to Israel before returning to face the music.
In addition to jail time, Manor was ordered to pay $8.8 million and permanently banned from the financial industry, in August 2012. After his release, he disappeared.
What about now?
Bonomo left the firm in the summer and has deleted the experience from his LinkedIn account. Manor came clean to his employees about who he really is and stopped paying them. His whereabouts are unknown.
The company is still operational under the name BCT Inc.