Marek Skonieczny, one of the founders of the Bitcoin Embassy Amsterdam, is said to be suspended from the organization by his two former associates Martijn Wismeijer and Arthur Rommes because of a series of perceived wrongdoings. As Skonieczny has found a new location, however, he intends to continue the original embassy, meaning that Amsterdam now supposedly hosts two different Bitcoin Embassies.
The history of the (original) Bitcoin Embassy Amsterdam is only a couple of months old. The project was first announced in September of 2014 by then partners at the Dutch BTM-collective Mr. Bitcoin, Skonieczny, and Wismeijer, who were soon joined by the third main co-founder Rommes. The trio found a suitable location for the embassy towards the end of the year, as they were permitted to set up shop in the Bitcoin friendly café Hofje van Wijs. The Bitcoin Embassy Amsterdam was sponsored by the Polish bitcoin exchange BitBay as well as Polish IT-company Rublon for about 700 euro, while individual bitcoin enthusiasts and companies could apply for a paid membership.
According to Wismeijer, matters started to turn for the worse when Skonieczny – better known in the Dutch Bitcoin community under his alias Marek Skorek, refused to provide others involved with the embassy with any financial accountability regarding the sponsorship money. Although these funds were supposed to be controlled through a shared multisig Bitcoin wallet, Skonieczny never set this wallet up, and instead claimed that much of the money was spent on embassy related expenses.
On top of that, Wismeijer and Rommes were increasingly disgruntled with Skonieczny's policy at the embassy, such as his promotion of nonexistent events and the undemocratic method of decision-making. Additionally, Wismeijer and Skonieczny parted ways professionally as Skonieczny left Mr. Bitcoin for undisclosed reasons.
The Beginning of The End
What finally lit the fuse, was an interview Skonieczny gave to Cointelegraph last January. Referring to a controversial court case regarding the financial status of Bitcoin in the Netherlands, Skonieczny presented the Bitcoin Embassy Amsterdam as “a screen against the [Dutch Bitcoin] Foundation,” while espousing severe – and in part rather unfounded – critique on the monthly Bitcoin Wednesday meetup in Amsterdam, and the Dutch bitcoin brokerage Bitonic. This event was to the dismay of Wismeijer and Rommes, who say to aim for a constructive approach with other members of the Dutch Bitcoin community.
Speaking to Cointelegraph, Wismeijer said: “It is as if Skonieczny is willingly trying to cause a rift in our small community. This is not something we support at all. We'd rather focus our energy on building a community rather than breaking it down.”
The climax of this story happened earlier this month. On the sixth of March, Skonieczny was formally banned and suspended – or perhaps excluded – as a member of the Bitcoin Embassy Amsterdam. The embassy was re-branded as – or perhaps replaced by – the Bitcoin Embassy Amsterdam Association by Wismeijer and Rommes. (Whether the “old” embassy is re-branded or replaced depends on who you ask).
Skonieczny ignored the letter notifying him of this decision however and showed up at an event at the Bitcoin Embassy Amsterdam two days later. In response, Wismeijer and Rommes called the police and had Skonieczny removed from the premise entirely. Subsequently, seemingly shocked, Skonieczny lingered in front of the café for a while, speaking to attendees at the event who were just arriving or smoking a cigarette outside. These actions were in turn met with another notification of Wismeijer and Rommes to the police, who now told Skonieczny to leave the street in front of the café in its entirety.
Skonieczny met all of this with even more astonishment, he says. “I really don't understand what the problem is,” he told Cointelegraph. “Although it is true that I have not yet created a multisig wallet for the sponsorship funds, this is only because no one has stepped up to the plate to fulfill any sort of official function within the Bitcoin Embassy Amsterdam as I suggested right when we opened in December. Moreover, all of the funds are accounted for, either because I kept the receipts of the expenses I made or because it's right there on the blockchain.”
Skonieczny, moreover, is not planning to sit idly by as “his” embassy is taken over – or perhaps replaced – by Wismeijer and Rommes. Directly after he was banned from the Hofje van Wijs, Skonieczny was invited by the owner of an Argentinian restaurant right across the street to establish a new – or perhaps continue the existing – Bitcoin embassy.
“It wouldn't make sense to just stop running the Bitcoin Embassy Amsterdam. We have members, we have sponsors, we have funds, and now we even have a new location. And in a way, having several Bitcoin embassies might even make a lot of sense, as it highlights the decentralized nature of Bitcoin itself. Plus, competition is healthy.”
-- Marek Skonieczny
Wismeijer remains skeptical of the “new” Bitcoin Embassy, however: “There is only one real Bitcoin embassy in Amsterdam, and Skonieczny is not a part of it. The Dutch Bitcoin community deserves better than him.”
Adding: “I just hope we can leave all of this trouble behind us, and start playing a constructive and fruitful role in the Dutch Bitcoin community.”
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