This article has been updated to reflect comments from Ran Neuner on his involvement in the project.
The man behind the “Blockchain Terminal” (BCT) initial coin offering (ICO) has reportedly been outed as a financial criminal who concealed his former identity from employees and investors, according to crypto news outlet The Block. An investigation into the circumstances was published Dec. 11.
The BCT project and its affiliated firm, CG Blockchain, are alleged to have raised as much as $31 million in an ICO to launch a crypto-focused version of the ubiquitous Bloomberg Terminal — a highly successful financial data and trading tool for the financial sector.
According to The Block, BCT’s glossy “institutional-grade” tool for crypto “trading professionals” had at its helm a man who operated as “Shaun MacDonald,” but was allegedly a convicted fraudster, Boaz Manor. Manor received a four-year prison sentence in Canada in 2012 for siphoning $106 million from a Toronto-based hedge fund that he co-founded, according to Toronto news daily, The Star.
The Canadian fund reportedly had $800 million in assets under management at its peak from 26,000 investors. In April 2018, The Globe and Mail reported that Manor agreed to repay nearly $6.6 million to make up for missing diamonds from the fund. At the time, Manor reportedly said that he does not know where the diamonds are located.
The Globe and Mail further states that Manor agreed to a lifetime ban from the securities industry, after which he supposedly withheld his conviction and identity from his colleagues at BCT. Manor went so far as “growing a beard and [dying] his hair red,” according to The Block. While formally assigning the company’s presidency to Bob Bonomo — former chief information officer at $500 billion asset management firm AllianceBernstein — MacDonald was reportedly the primary driver behind the BCT venture.
Although it marketed its $999 “Blockchain Terminal” to crypto hedge funds — a 32-inch HD terminal with a hardware private key — the company is alleged to have raised most of its funds via a lucrative $31 million ICO for its native BCT token, which launched in September 2017.
One of the project’s purported investors is the high-profile crypto analyst and host of CNBC’s show Cryptotrader Ran Neuner, who tweeted his endorsement of the Blockchain Terminal in June, and is alleged to have invested as much as $1.3 million in the company’s ICO, according to two unnamed sources.
Neuner yesterday stated he had “lost a ton” of his own cash investing in the BCT “fraud,” but accused The Block of “defamatory” misreporting, and falsely claiming to have reached out to contact him for comment on the story.
When reached for comment, Neuner clarified to Cointelegraph that he invested around $300,000 — not $1.3 million — in the BCT project. He explained over email that he “at one point [...] advised the company, specifically about how to infiltrate the crypto market,” noting that he assisted in finding “high volume traders” to test the screens.
However, Neuner continued, after receiving a “tip off” in the early fall that MacDonald was actually Boaz Manor, he confronted him without receiving confirmation. Neuner added:
“Due to the suspicion [I] resigned immediately from the advisory and have been working with a bunch of other investors ever since to gather enough credible information to go to the authorities and report the project.
My investigation is ongoing.”
Besides MacDonald’s misrepresentations, the Block reports that Bonomo “quietly resigned” from BCT this summer, after which MacDonald supposedly revealed himself as Manor to his employees, and purportedly ceased to pay them. With Manor’s whereabouts “unclear,” BCT has now rebranded as BCT Inc., and announced in late October that its Terminal would go on sale to the public.