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r/Bitcoin - A quick take on what's happening in Cyprus now ...
The full picture of former Neo & Bee employees
Following the latest statement released by Danny Brewster, CEO of Neo & Bee Ltd, we, the personnel involved at an executive level within Neo and Bee, feel it is appropriate and justified to make the following statement regarding the mistruths and outright lies being fed to investors, creditors and the public. In the interests of preserving the potential that the company can be turned around, we had remained silent on the matter up to this point. The senior management team would like to extend their deepest regrets for the events that have transpired with Neo & Bee. Every member of the team was wholly devoted to the cause of making the company a success and dedicated their every hour to this cause. We equally regret our inability to rectify the situation and protect the profit shareholders and actual shareholders (Danny Brewster). We were misled and the truth was obfuscated from us under so many layers, that combined with our workload, proved enough to allow the CEO to run rampant, without accountability and with full control of all the bitcoins, until it was too late. After a lot of silence, and possibly after he was informed by the media of the arrest warrant, he posted the “full” picture on Reddit (http://www.reddit.com/Bitcoin/comments/232v5n/the_full_picture_from_danny_brewste) The following are the facts witnessed and attestable by senior management at Neo & Bee Ltd. It is most of what some of us have personally testified with all existing documentation, to the local authorities. Anyone willing to verify these should please contact them. Danny Brewster is the sole Director, shareholder and CEO of the group of companies. He was solely responsible for raising approximately 9.400 bitcoins prior to hiring any employees through crowdfunding on multiple platforms. Once we assumed our duties, we repeatedly made requests regarding transparency of bitcoins in the company’s possession so that the CFO could perform his duties. The CEO never divulged specific documented information regarding the IPVO bitcoins and amounts. To this date, and unless further information is revealed by Danny Brewster, the CFO is unable to account for the majority of bitcoins allegedly expended. Danny Brewster was the sole custodian of funds raised from the IPVO and despite repeated requests from both the CFO and Compliance and Risk Management Officer, he consistently deflected and delayed any attempts to have the coins witnessed or accounted for - increasing concerns leading up to the events of March 19th. Tuesday 18th of March Mr. Brewster told a member of the management team that the company had 5000 Bitcoins remaining. This directly goes against what was said the following day. Mr. Brewster called a meeting for all of the senior management team on the 19th of March in which he informed us that the company was down to its last 140 bitcoins. Mr. Brewster proceeded to give a very rough and incoherent breakdown of where the funds had been spent. After revealing the lack of funds to his employees he went on to raise the possibility of selling more “profit shares” to increase liquidity. All employees sternly objected to this and the idea has since not been raised since. In defence of the sudden announcement on the 19th of March that the company only had 140 bitcoins remaining, Mr. Brewster stated in front of the same people that he had mis-accounted for 5000 of his own bitcoins, bitcoins he thought he owned but after “checking” a wallet, realised had actually spent them all. How Mr. Brewster’s personal finances are relevant to the financial situation the company found itself in is highly questionable. Should Mr. Brewster still have owned these 5000 bitcoins, the company would nonetheless be in the same situation, albeit with a potential credit line. Mr. Brewster claims varying amounts between 1400 and 1700 of the company’s bitcoins were lost in We-exchange/Bitfunder. Mr. Brewster’s claims that none of the company’s coins were lost in Mt. Gox directly contradict information given on the 19th of March to the whole of the management team, that we in fact lost 2480 bitcoins in Mt. Gox. We are aware Mr. Brewster now claims 369 of his own funds were lost in Mt. Gox, but again this has no relevance on the company’s finances. His personal investment in the company (claimed in an older newspaper interview) varied upwards to 6 million (assuming Euro). There is no logical trace of this investment or where it was spent. At the same time, it appears to us, that he customarily made payments through his Bitstamp account to creditors, and many of us have multiple indications that he was trading there and in every other major exchange. When asked, he always replied that it was his personal holdings. There are conflicting statements from him, which indicate that he never separated the company funds from his personal. Bitcoins lost in the exchanges were at some points reported to be his, and at other the company’s. Mr. Brewster came to the office for one hour on Thursday the 20th and one hour on Friday the 21st. On Thursday the 20th it was made very clear to him that the whole of the management team wished Danny to be removed as the CEO. Danny agreed to step down after transferring control of the company to investors. He claimed he was flying to the UK to speak with investors the following week. After leaving on Monday the 24th, no one was able to get in contact with him until the 28th when he wrote to us that due to threats against his daughter’s life he should remain silent, and in England (despite his daughter being in Cyprus). The supposed threat email is dated 26th of March, while Mr. Brewster has been out of contact long before that. We mentioned this claimed threat to the local authorities here on the 28th as well, since any potential threat of any form should not be taken lightly. They said that this was the first time they heard of it, from us. Danny claims this alleged threat also caused him to decide to transfer the company to an administrator for restructuring or liquidation. Despite considering this before leaving, as he said to us, he only settled on it after said threat. On the 31st, we sent him a demand letter requesting he returns and give explanations regarding his absence in the face of dire problems with the company, and the brand decomposing each day he is away and the company is unfunded. The deadline expired on 18:30 Cyprus time, April the 2nd, Wednesday. He posted his reply on the morning of the same day, causing an outrage of the personnel and management that were in the office, still waiting for any sort of coherent response and a way forward. No documentation regarding the bitcoins he supposedly has accounted, has reached the personnel of the company, despite the numerous demands from us, and claims from him that they “are all accounted for”. Claiming that the threats may have originated within the company is simply adding insult to injury. The people that worked ceaselessly and tirelessly over long hours and weekends, the same people that said they would go unpaid for months when he said he had no more bitcoins, the same people that tried to save his brand, willingly working for an increasingly unlikely wage while he was away, were suspect for threats in his books. For all of the above reasons, upon reading his last response, everyone in the company filed our resignations to be forwarded to the local Registrar of Companies, in absence of the CEO. A recommendation to halt trading was sent to Mr. Brewster on the 27th. The recommendation was sent to hinder any insider trading activity, considering that it was unlikely that the information about the financial situation of the company could be contained, if he remained in hiding. We were not contacted before trading reinitiated on Havelock on the 4th. Mr. Brewster has personally sold bitcoins to local Cypriots and staff, and remained the personal custodian of these bitcoins. These bitcoins are now unaccounted for, and the management team was left to face these creditors who we didn’t even know had bought bitcoins from Mr. Brewster. We invite any more that have a documented sale of bitcoins from Mr. Brewster and placed under his custody, to present said evidence to the authorities. Also, contrary to Mr. Brewster’s claims that he left the island with none of the company’s money, he did in fact and still does hold the company’s remaining 140 Bitcoins (if that’s what’s left).The 140 BTC were never delivered to cover any debt or running expenses despite him being asked and confirming this verbally to all present. His claim later on, was that his lawyer had advised him not to send the coins. To this day we can only assume he is still in possession of these remaining coins. He is also in possession of personal bitcoins of two employees (~50 bitcoins), as well as at least the bitcoins of multiple other people who bought from him as mentioned above, and entrusted their coins to him for safekeeping. While we now know that one of his cars has changed owners Mercedes and the Bentley is in a car dealer with other plates (probably sold as well), he has remained silent, despite having clearly said that potential funds from selling the cars would go to paying salaries and creditors. Which brings us here. We will remain in contact with the community and authorities to clear this situation out to its full extent. This was the doing of one person in full control of a business’ funds, not technology and certainly not Bitcoin’s. What we face, is in its core, a corporate governance failure, pervasive in conventional businesses even more often than it is in Bitcoin businesses. Contrary to conventional businesses, where regulation is the only response, the tools are available here, to ensure in the future that these things don’t happen.
George Papageorgiou, former COO
Øystein Aaby, former Compliance and Risk Management Officer
A quick take on what's happening in Cyprus now (I'm here at the Neo opening event)
Today I attended a very exciting opening event here at Neo & Bee, the company who is making Bitcoin easily accessible and practically useful for the general public in Cyprus. Over the past few weeks, Neo ads have been displayed on many billboards around the country and in television teaser commercials, and the company has been prominently featured in all the major newspapers with front page wrappers yesterday. There were many people present here at the opening event, and the Neo website hit +10,000 unique visitors in a day. With 800k inhabitants, the large majority of the population now knows about this company Neo that can empower them to break away from the banking system that they feel so betrayed by. Many Cypriot journalists outside are writing stories about Bitcoin as we speak. (Interestingly enough, the largest Turkish Bitcoin exchange is also located on Cyprus, in the northern part of the Island.) Many local banks here are facing litigation soon, so they have their own things to worry about. Meanwhile initiatives like Neo are capturing the imagination of the public at large. The central bank here is obviously critical of Bitcoin and Neo, but the rest of the authorities are in contrast very opening and welcoming. The reason is that many officials lost money during the crisis, and have suffered damage from the lies coming from the banking system. Bitcoin is a positive story that people and the authorities can get behind, and in many ways is also an opportunity for the country to keep being relevant in the world of finance. To give an idea of the dire state of the economy here: It's estimated that in the past 12 months, between 5 and 6 billion euro's have been pulled out of the financial system and are now being held as cash-under-the-mattress on the island. So the need for a solution to liberate this (legal) money is huge. Also, I'm being told that in 2013, only 2 companies made notable investments in Cyprus - Neo is one of them. Is Cyprus on its way to become the Hong Kong of Bitcoin? --update-- The picture was taken after the opening event, that explains the lack of of people. I don't own any shares in Neo & Bee at the moment Follow me on twitter @tuurdemeester for more Bitcoin & economy related updates. The next few weeks I'll be in London (Keiser Report), Brussels, Austin TX, Guatemala, and San Francisco. --update 2-- Neo's Bitcoin conference today was attended by executives from Deloitte, FinMin, Pirraeus, C-Cola, B of Cyprus, FBME, MTM mobile, ISPs, ... Excitement was palpable, even from some bankers. Tomorrow to Limasol. --update 3-- The Limasol crowd was equal in quantity, quality, and excitement. Bitcoin has enormous appeal in distressed environments, that much is sure.
My take on what happened with Neo & Bee, after visiting the company in February
Things have taken a dramatic turn for investors and employees with Neo & Bee. The gist of it is that CEO Danny Brewster has disappeared, and with him apparently thousands of bitcoins from investors. If the company is not salvaged, the reputation of Bitcoin on the island of Cyprus will be tainted, and hundreds of bitcoiners will see their investment fail. This is ugly, there's no other way to put it. I hope that my perspective below can help putting some of the pieces together as to what exactly happened. Interactions with Danny and my trip to Cyprus for their branch opening My first contact with Danny Brewster was in june 2013. We had a brief skype call in which he asked me some feedback about his plans for starting a Bitcoin company in Cyprus. I was quite skeptical at the time, because his profile and background in security didn't seem to match with my notion of a tech entrepreneur. I did agree with him that Cyprus was a very interesting location for a Bitcoin venture, and I wished him well. Later last year, in early september, Danny informed me about the prospectus and public offering of Neo & Bee. I didn't pay much attention to this and didn't read the prospectus, as I was in Austin at the time helping out with Cointerra. In november, he contacted me again with the question whether I wanted to speak about Bitcoin at their conference in Cyprus. Originally it was planned for january, later it was pushed back to late february. I booked the flights, and they were reimbursed to me in BTC by Danny. The pieces of information Danny shared every now and then over skype were intriguing. He talked about his connections with the university, meetings with the minister of finance and other high brow people, how he had signed up a chain of 40 stores where Neo & Bee products could be offered, and more. When I arrived in Cyprus in late February, Danny picked me up at the airport. In the kiosk there he showed me how all major newspapers had a 2 page wrapper over the front cover, featuring "Neo" in big letters. On the way to his house (he had invited me to stay at his place) we saw at least four big Neo bilboards flash by. Danny drove a posh Bentley car that he'd imported from the UK. Once arriving at his luxurious but sparsely furnished rental home, I was greeted by his fiancé. At first I was surprised by the affluence he displayed that first day, but that faded when Danny told me he was an early Bitcoin and Litecoin adopter who'd invested thousands of his own coins into the company (since his disappearance, his personal btc wealth became very contested). When Danny and I discussed the MtGox failure the day it made the news, I asked him how many worthless bitcoins he personally had left sitting in the exchange. He answered "365". At another point during my stay, the Bitcoin price fell briefly to below $500, and when I told him about this, he set up a trade to allegedly buy over €80,000 in bitcoins while sitting in his office, taking profit a few hours later when the price had recovered. (I was at the other side of his desk, so I didn't see the actual trade happen.) The evening of the first day, Danny drove me to Neo's headquarters, an impressive four story building in downtown Nicosia. The building was owned by Christos Vlachos, CFO of the University of Nicosia, who I met several times during my stay and who'd made headlines last year by being the first to launch an Masters' degree in Digital Currencies. The bottom floor of the building featured the Neo store, with furnished rooms in the back for staff meetings and sanitation. Next to the store there was a large floor where I saw at least 12 programmers at work, one of whom demonstrated to me a functioning beta version of Neo's teller backend software as well as the e-banking interface. Upstairs on the second floor I found Neo's headquarters, and on two floors above that there were a number of ad agencies, the largest of which had created the ad campaign for Neo. Over the course of the three days I got to talk to about ten of the Neo employees. They struck me as quite professional, and they were obviously passionate about the company and about the prospects for Bitcoin in Cyprus. The impression that I got of the corporate culture was relaxed and open. Danny didn't seem to mind showing me emails or allowing me to be present in the office while he was discussing certain corporate decisions. In a skype message to a friend, I wrote on the 23rd: "I still need to find out whether these guys are casual geniuses, or clever cowboys". After the opening event the next morning—about 120 people attended, and it was widely reported—, we traveled to a hotel/conference centre nearby for the Bitcoin conference. The turnout was impressive: about 200 professionals, many working for multinational corporations, banks, and even government agencies. The next day in Limasol, the same scenario repeated itself. I left for London the following day. How I found out about the problems at Neo & Bee I was not aware of anything amiss with Neo until late last month when one of their investors asked me about the rumors that were circulating. That day I contacted Neo's management, and on sunday march 30th I got to talk to its COO and Compliance Officer (George Papageorgiou and Øystein Aaby). They told me the story as it was published today on reddit. I also emailed CEO Danny later that day, asking him about his version of the facts. Surprisingly, I did get a short response (he also seems to have given Coindesk a short response), though he didn't answer my request for more details and contact info of the lawyers he mentioned. Earlier this month I helped the former management with reaching out to various Bitcoin angels and funds, to see whether Neo & Bee can still be salvaged. The outcome of that process is uncertain. Why I didn't investigate Neo & Bee's financial situation more thoroughly — though I should have On February 23rd I asked Danny for clarification about the company's valuation. He said that Neo had +3,000BTC left from the IPO proceeds. Based on the numbers he told me, I calculated that the total valuation of the company was roughly 56,000 BTC, or $32.3M at the time, $2M of which were the publicly available shares. Despite the 3,000 bitcoins that were allegedly left, this valuation struck me as very high, and so from then on I didn't ask more because I had decided that this company not something I would be interested in as an investment. The next month, on march 17, my attention was caught by the newly published Neo & Bee prospectus and the fact that they had received several inquiries from international parties that wanted to start franchise Neo stores (as per Danny). I decided to buy 250 shares at 0.8 BTC as a first investment just in case the international leg of the company would take off quickly. I disclosed that purchase on twitter. Ironically I made that purchase exactly the day before Danny disappeared. In hindsight I definitely should have done due diligence before writing in such positive terms about Neo & Bee. That is a lesson I will certainly remember. Final thoughts Even though I never had any business relationships with Neo*, I do feel I have failed to take my responsibility as a public commentator seriously enough. To wit, over the past two months I have talked repeatedly and positively about Neo & Bee and the Bitcoin ecosystem in Cyprus. I also visited the company headquarters on February 24th and 25th, and spoke about the experience on various public fora. Though I never recommended anyone to invest in the company, and only did so myself for less than 1 BTC, I can imagine that my enthusiasm for the project, combined with my profile as an economist and investor helped convince a fair amount of people to make an investment or to maintain their trust in the company. I'm very sorry for any losses incurred because of that. The lesson for me going forward, which I already knew but that I have now laser engraved into my brain, is that it is critical doing proper due diligence when making investment decisions. Excitement is never an indicator of viability or proper management. Sure, we all occasionally make an investment decision based on nothing more than a trusted reference. That's fine, as long as we keep these investments very small to manage their inherently high risk. This episode has also reminded me, as I stated in my Buenos Aires talk last december, that investing in Bitcoin the currency is likely the most stable and maybe even the most profitable option going forward, because it avoids the bulk of the third party risks involved with Bitcoin ecosystem investments. Best wishes, Tuur Demeester *My financial interactions with the company were thus: I was reimbursed for my flight with 0.27 BTC, and the compensation for speaking at the two Neo conferences was a surprise gift containing promotional materials including an €80 tablet pc, a writing pad, and a Neo T-shirt. Here's the post I published on reddit during my visit late February: http://www.reddit.com/Bitcoin/comments/1ysbt6/a_quick_take_on_whats_happening_in_cyprus_now_im/
We are pleased to announce that Neo's flagship branch is scheduled to launch on February 24, 2014. As part of the launch, we will also release the following three products:
Instant-Access BTC Wallet
This wallet will function as a standard Bitcoin wallet which utilizes the multi-signature process. Neo will earn revenue from these accounts through the fees paid when exchanging Euros for Bitcoin. Account holders will receive a Bee card, allowing them to make purchases at retailers around the island of Cyprus, and through existing Bitcoin payment gateways.
This wallet will allow the customer to hold Bitcoins over a predetermined time period in their own wallet with multi-signature functionality. These wallets will enable the customer to execute an exchange back to Euros on the predetermined date for either the original Euro amount or for the value of the Bitcoin that is held in the wallet at the time of the exchange, however the maximum amount of gains the customer will receive will be limited to an agreed level. Neo will derive income from this type of wallet through gains made in the value of Bitcoin over an above the agreed percentage.
This wallet will enable merchants to accept Bitcoin payments from anyone. Merchants will have the ability to determine the exact percentage of revenue they wish to retain as Bitcoins and how much they wish to convert instantly to Euros as settlement. Merchants may accept payments into their bank account through electronic transfer, or collect as cash from one of the Neo branches. Should the merchant choose to access their money through one of our branches, they will have access to those funds within one minute of accepting the payment. We have decided to delay the second branch in Nicosia to ensure the flagship branch opening goes smoothly. The second branch will tentatively launch within the first quarter of 2014.
Bee Payment Network
We have taken delivery of the first batch of POS terminals. We are now finalizing the integration with Neo applications. Bee will not charge transaction fees to merchants. This ensures the lowest barrier to entry. Bee will instead derive income from the rental of POS terminals and monthly fees for online payment gateways. We have been working closely with a number of POS and Stock Management System developers to ensure compatibility and ease of integration with their systems and the Bee network. This will enable thousands of Cypriot and international merchants to easily integrate our terminals with existing infrastructure.
Neo EasyCoin is nearing the completion of beta testing. We are waiting for some locations to go online with different payment service providers. We are also working with other payment service providers in Europe to enable Neo EasyCoin to service additional European countries. Neo EasyCoin will provide service to the United States once we are in possession of a written clarification from FinCEN regarding our business model. Our lawyers are working on this daily. While we are confident in our plan, we also want to ensure long-term stability.
We have received consistent and positive attention from local news outlets, including newspapers, television, magazines and news websites. Here are some examples:
Neo's first advertising campaign is now underway. The first television advertisement will premiere on February 1st. Radio advertisements and a new Neo & Bee website will be launched in support of this campaign. The website will include detailed information about our personal and merchant wallet service offerings.
We continue to make progress in establishing clear regulations for the operation of Bitcoin-based businesses in Cyprus. We have taken the necessary steps to obtain a Cyprus investment firm license, which would enable us to offer time-locked wallets to customers. We will offer these wallets when we open the first branch.
Neo Xchange is a new venture in which Neo will act as a brokerage and trade on a new Bitcoin exchange under development. The Neo Xchange platform will offer trade derivatives and other financial instruments. This requires the platform to be regulated. We are working towards obtaining the required licenses from CySEC to operate this platform. More information will be provided as available. Once this platform has been launched, Neo will have greater ability to hedge the instant-access pegged wallets.
We are now developing our own ATM hardware that will enable customers to have access to all subsidiaries in many countries. This development will enable global expansion. By increasing our footprint in this manner, we can assess the data from these portals to determine optimal locations for expansion of the Neo network of branch locations. The Neo Portals project is being managed by Brad Vaivoda. Brad Vaivoda graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a B.Sc in mechanical engineering. After beginning his career performing brake rotor design and analysis in Formula 1, he accepted a position aiding orthopedic surgeons during operations whilst working for Zimmer Holdings Inc., a medical device manufacturer in the orthopedic industry. Most recently, Brad was employed by The Boeing Company as a Test & Evaluation Engineer working across Boeing's commercial aircraft product lines. Brad has since turned his focus to Bitcoin and Bitcoin-related ventures. He has considerable experience with bleeding-edge technology and is familiar with working in fast-paced environments.
Cryptocurrency Facts and Trends 2019-2018 Cryptocurrency Statistics 2019 There are many statistics that demonstrate the increasing influence of Bitcoin. Below are six of the most important. They illustrate that, not only is Bitcoin development growing, but the world’s reliance upon it as well. One of the fundamental principles of Bitcoin is its immutability. Neo will earn revenue from these accounts through the fees paid when exchanging Euros for Bitcoin. Account holders will receive a Bee card, allowing them to make purchases at retailers around the island of Cyprus, and through existing Bitcoin payment gateways. Time-Locked Wallets . This wallet will allow the customer to hold Bitcoins over a predetermined time period in their own wallet with ... duduqa: asciilifeform: the question i ask is "would the adoption from small places such as cyprus, or Honduras ZEDEs, ... I was involved in a decently sized digital currency long before bitcoin, and the IRS just told them to issue 1099c to everyone who participated, the barter clause has been around for 50+ years. assbot: [HAVELOCK] [B.SELL] 1 @ 0.103 BTC [-] assbot: [HAVELOCK] [B.EXCH] 1 @ 0 ... WebTrader Experience. As per our Plus500 review, Plus500’s WebTrader platform is a streamlined trading platform that is steady and simple to access from any browser. Suffice to say, WebTrader has a simple and functional interface that allows the trader to make watch lists, analyze the technical charts, and supervise trades. Today, Sunday the 23rd, all main newspapers in Cyprus are being wrapped with a Neo & Bee Cover which gives full details about the opening of the first Neo & Bee branch, information about the company's services and information about Bitcoin! The Neo & Bee Cover also gives details of the company's Call Center (7777 6544) and the company's New Website (www.neo-bee.com) which is live!! The whole ...
LMB Holdings on the NEO and BEE Bitcoin Bank in Cyprus
George Papageorgiou COO of Neo & Bee on Sigma Live TV CryptoCyprus. Loading... Unsubscribe from CryptoCyprus? Cancel Unsubscribe. Working... Subscribe Subscribed Unsubscribe 128. Loading ... YouTube's news destination featuring comprehensive up-to-date coverage on the latest top stories, sports, business, entertainment, politics, and more. Coronavirus: US task force deliver daily briefing at White House – watch live Guardian News 1,498 watching Live now Bitcoin Cryptocurrency Crash Course with Andreas Antonopoulos - Jefferson Club ... Thanks to Away for sponsoring this video! Go to https://www.awaytravel.com/techquickie and use promo code techquickie to get $20 off your next order! Bitcoin... The Altcoin Buzz team met up with Miko Matsumura at BEF2018 Singapore. We asked him about his thoughts on the bitcoin price and market dip and he gives his frank opinion on it. We then asked him ...