According to an unidentified source, on Wednesday, July 26, 2017, Moroccan police in Tangiers arrested Renwick Haddow, a man charged with securities fraud by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). After appearing before the public prosecutor in Tangiers, Haddow was taken to a prison in Salé, close to the Moroccan capital, Rabat. The Moroccan Court of Cassation will consider his extradition.
On June 30, 2017, the SEC filed charges against Haddow, accusing him of failing to register his firm as a broker-dealer and creating front companies for an investment scam. Haddow solicited investors for two fake companies, Bitcoin Store, a purported bitcoin trading platform, and Bar Works, a flexible workspace firm.
According to Andrew M. Calamari, director of the SEC’s New York Regional Office, “Haddow created two trendy companies and misled investors into believing that highly-qualified executives were leading them to quick profitability.”
The SEC alleges that these “executives” never existed. The SEC further asserts that Haddow siphoned approximately $5 million using the front companies Bar Works and Bitcoin Store, and diverted the funds to offshore accounts in Mauritius and Morocco.
It appears that Haddow exploited bitcoin’s name to solicit investors chasing terrific returns. The charges against him, however, are not related to the SEC’s recent report on token offerings and securities.
Over the next few years, for every successful token offering and subsequent powerhouse company, there may be a handful of companies that will falter. In the cryptocurrency community, it’s vital to distinguish between classic cases of financial fraud (like Haddow’s) and actual companies that fail to deliver on their promises.