In the wild world of blockchain pioneers, Power Ledger founder Jemma Green is a rock star.
The former investment banker oversaw the biggest initial coin offering in Australian history, was chosen as EY's fintech entrepreneur of the year, and won an international start-up competition overseen by Sir Richard Branson. She even stepped in as Perth's mayor last year.
Her two-and-half-year-old company promises to revolutionise the global power industry. Power Ledger's blockchain tokens, an unregulated, computer-based form of money, allow individuals to trade electricity between themselves, save money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Power Ledger founder Jemma Green won the Extreme Tech Challenge in 2018, which was judged at Richard Branson's private island in the Caribbean. Supplied
Green created a virtual currency worth more than $2 billion at its peak. Yet her trading system has a tiny take-up, was rejected by the one big electricity retailer that tested it, and a government-funded trial hasn't met the expectations of some involved.
Now, some experienced tech and green-industry figures are posing an awkward question: does Power Ledger epitomise the over-hyping of blockchain?
"I'm a software engineer by training, have been mucking about online for 35-plus years and am an energy geek," says Melbourne green-energy investor Simon Holmes a Court. "I still don't understand what valuable problem they are trying to solve.
"The basic infrastructure to manage transactions at massive scale already exists – [there's] no need to use Blockchain."
Blockchain, which is the basis for Bitcoin and similar currencies, was invented in 2008 by an unknown person. Despite billions invested in the technology, it is unclear if there are any profitable blockchain businesses not directly involved in cryptocurrencies.
"We've seen a bunch of profitable blockchain applications, but all have been focused on obtaining and trading crypto and their profitability is generally linked to prices – think miners, exchanges and wallet providers," says John Henderson, a venture capitalist at AirTree Ventures.
The blockchain frenzy
Part of blockchain's popularity is as much ideological as financial. Encrypted databases spread around the internet, controlled by no one, blockchains represent a technological rebellion against the centralisation of economic power in governments and central banks, whom many hold responsible for global financial crisis.
"Blockchain has been seen as a nirvana – its ideological roots are decentralisation and removal of institutions," says Peter Williams, a partner at Deloitte Consulting who specialises in technology. "The zealots are into self-sovereign ID, everything decentralised and the end of institutions."
Last year, the blockchain enthusiasm drove a global investment wave. Some 1225 initial coin offerings, the blockchain-equivalent of IPOs or sharemarket floats, raised $US7.5 billion through the sale of blockchain tokens or coins, much of it from individual investors, according to the ICO Data website. The technology was predicted to change dozens of industries, from shipping to healthcare.
In Australia, Green was at the forefront of the movement. Her company promised to apply blockchain's anti-authority ethos to challenging big electricity monopolies.
@elonmusk I am told you might be interested in us at @PowerLedger_io we do blockchain energy for democratisation of power & citizen utilies
— Dr Jemma Green (@msjemmagreen) September 15, 2017
Green had been in London for 11 years. After starting as a trading assistant at the Royal Bank of Scotland, she joined JP Morgan, where she assessed the environmental and social risk of new loans and shares.
Going places in Perth
In 2013 she returned to Perth, where her father had bred and trained racehorses. She began to ascend the city's business and social hierarchy.
Green enrolled in a PhD at Curtin University, consulted under the brand The Green Enterprise, and ran for the City of Perth council. She joined the advisory board of One Million Women, a female climate change group based in Sydney.
Within four years she was deputy mayor and head of one of the Perth's hottest start-ups. She was tweeting Elon Musk, trying to get him interested. (He didn't reply.) "The motto that I live by is 'anything's possible'," she said at the time.
Why @elonmusk Has His Eye On This Aussie #Blockchain #Energy Company @PowerLedger_io #ICO #POWRtoken
— Crypto Guru 2018 (@ICO_Market_Guru) October 6, 2017
Green had hatched a plan worthy of her motto: cash in on the bitcoin boom by creating one billion virtual-currency tokens.
Her pitch was almost impossible for outsiders to understand. The ambition was unmistakable.
"The Power Ledger Platform is a trustless, transparent and interoperable energy trading platform that supports an ever-expanding suite of energy applications, with an exchangeable frictionless energy trading token, Sparkz," Power Ledger's 28-page company manifesto said.
Sounds like an IPO
It sounded like an IPO. It wasn't. Instead, the tokens gave investors the right to use Power Ledger's technology at some point in the future. The weren't entitled to any profits.
In Power Ledger's market individuals use blockchain tokens to buy and sell electricity generated from solar panels. Vicky Hughson
Most companies raising capital use stockbrokers or bankers. Power Ledger turned to what are known in the blockchain world as "bounty hunters".
One-and-a-half million POWR tokens were set aside for individuals to promote the sale on social media. Dozens of newspaper and blog articles were published. The Huffington Post profiled the company and compared blockchain with the early internet.
Articles exaggerated Power Ledger's achievements. The company was often described as operating a retail electricity market, and sounded liked an eBay or Amazon for solar power. In reality, it was building the technology and didn't have a commercial market operating.
Twitter was flooded with posts. Some claimed Musk had asked the company for advice. Fake accounts were rewarded with POWR tokens for their promotional work.
"Some of our bounty group were professional bounty hunters chasing tokens because it's what they do," Power Ledger said in a post a few weeks after the token sale. "Some were bots reporting an astounding 5000 likes of our social media output in a single 24-hour period."
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission disapproves of people spruiking investments without disclosing their interest.
"Certainly in my view it is not good practice for individuals to be promoting ICOs and receiving a benefit if they are not transparent about the benefits they are receiving," says John Price, an ASIC commissioner.
Peter Williams, the Deloitte partner, goes further. These are "classic market manipulation techniques," he says.
Some experienced tech and green-industry figures are posing an awkward question: does Power Ledger epitomise the over-hyping of blockchain?
Asked why Power Ledger used bounty hunters, Green says she isn't familiar with the phrase. "I don't know what you are talking about," she says.
Later, in an email, Greens says Power Ledger, unlike some other blockchain companies, works hard to be transparent. "We ran the ICO through a corporate structure, through our proprietary limited business," she says. "We have tax exposure. We had a proof of concept before going to market. And we did all of those things because we realise we need to bring legitimacy to our space and the ICO and crypto space more generally."
In almost perfect timing, Power Ledger raised $34 million a couple of months before bitcoin peaked. No other Australian blockchain company was as popular.
Initially, the tokens were a great investment. Sold by Power Ledger for US8.38¢ each, within five weeks they were trading at $US1.79. In a year and half, a company with fewer than 30 staff had created $2.4 billion in wealth.
Tokens allocated to Green, other private investors and key staff were worth $360 million. The former traders' assistant had been hit by what is known in the tech circles as the "money truck".
Green became a bona fide tech celebrity. She turned up at the World Economic Forum in Davos to help launch the Global Blockchain Business Council. EY named Green as one of its entrepreneurs of the year.
The accounting firm had fast-tracked her through the process. Contenders in other categories were required to go through applications, interviews, presentations over many months. Green's name was simply forwarded to the judges with a few others.
A market that doesn't exist
The adulation was based on Power Ledger's home-to-home trading idea, which it says is "perfect for any household, office or retailer connected to the electricity grid".
Blockchain CEO David Martin with chairman Jemma Green at their Perth office. The company issued blockchain tokens worth $2.4 billion at their peak. Trevor Collens
But the system doesn't operate outside a few pre-established trials that cover a tiny number of people. The low-cost of electricity, the ubiquity of supply and efficient exiting payment systems pose significant obstacles, critics say.
There is no way to sign up to Power Ledger's trading system. Electricity companies are needed – the Power Ledger website urges consumers to lobby them – but Origin Energy carried out a simulation and decided not to go ahead.
Asked how many buildings around the world use Power Ledger's system, Green says, "I don't know exactly off the top of my head".
Her CEO, David Martin, says the number is less than 100. All are trial sites, except for three Perth apartment buildings that were part of Green's PhD thesis. "We have never said that anyone can get on and start trading," she says.
The government has provided $2.6 million to test the system out on some 40 houses in Fremantle. The project is billed as the first electricity market where residents can set their own prices. It is a chance for Power Ledger to fulfil its core promise to generate higher prices for solar power producers and lower prices for consumers – the classic example of an efficient market.
One participant, who asked not to be named, says the trading system isn't worth using. A former manager in the energy industry, she her own solar panels and electric car. She sells electricity to the grid for 7¢ per kilowatt, and buys it for 26¢ per kilowatt.
Using Power Ledger, she expected to trade electricity with her neighbours between 7¢ and 26¢, saving both sides money. Power Ledger takes a cut of about half a cent a kilowatt.
But the local electricity retailer and power grid, Synergy and Western Power, charge a connection fee of $3 a day to trial participants. The overhead makes trading uneconomic for her.
Initially, the tokens were a great investment. Sold by Power Ledger for US8.38¢ each, within five weeks they were trading at $US1.79. In a year and half, a company with fewer than 30 staff had created $2.4 billion in wealth.
"I was quite disappointed because I find the idea of energy trading very exiting and I really wanted to experiment with it," she says.
The project's manager, Karla Fox-Reynolds of Curtin University, says other houses are buying and selling. "They are feeling empowered and enabled to participate in the energy market," she says. The project is advertising for more recruits.
'The road is not always straight'
Any criticism about Power Ledger's small take-up rate is unfair, Green says, because it is such a young company. "The road is not always straight," she says. "I think the value of it over time will be immeasurable."
Even some blockchain boosters are sceptical. Fred Schebesta, who owns a cryptocurrency broker, says he can't see what would drive the token price up.
"I think that they will need millions or hundreds of thousands [of customers] to be viable or really take off," he says. "The value of the token holders is not well aligned to the value of the business."
Now the bitcoin boom seems to have passed, many tech industry leaders are questioning if the ICOs were an investment fad that shifted wealth rather than created it.
"The ICO craze is and was way worse than the dot-com boom, where capital raised was at least a share of the upside and was subject to regulation," says Williams, the Deloitte partner.
After spectacularly peaking in January, POWR tokens crashed with the rest of the bitcoin market. Today they trade around 6.5¢, about 20 per cent below their issue price.
Skeptics question if blockchain is needed in the retail electricity industry, where big networks have scale, ubiquity and easy payment options. Supplied
The company continues to reward bloggers who promote the virtual currency. One of the boosters is a price-comparison website, Finder.com.au
, whose owner invests in cryptocurrencies.
"Power Ledger is an ambitious project but one that nonetheless has the potential to transform the energy industry around the world," one of the site's contributors, Tim Falk, wrote last month.
Falk, who recently wrote about 2018's top carpet cleaners, has punted on POWR tokens himself.
[Disclaimer: I was incredibly stupid for falling for a scam. I know. I'm genuinely embarrassed by it. At this point all I'm looking for is a few opinions. I also posted this on Trading
, but have yet to hear from a mod, since my acc. is new and they marked it as spam.]
New here, and wanted to ask a few questions, specifically about what legal powers unlicensed traders have over you.
Long story, here goes:
In April to May of this year I was duped into an online scam promising automated trading software “Bitcoin Trader”. In doing so, I chose Brokerz.com as the broker with which this automated trading should occur. I opened an account with Brokerz.com via a phone call in May of this year. I already knew this was odd, but played along out of ignorance and confusion. Brokerz.com
seems/seemed quasi-legitimate (though unlicensed), but the means by which I opened an account with them were not.
Suspecting that I had been scammed into depositing money with Brokerz.com, I decided almost immediately that I wanted to close it and filed a withdrawal request for the same day, wanting to withdraw all funds and subsequently close my account.
That was rejected, because I had not provided the sufficient ID, which I had never been asked for in the first place and I did not realise I needed to provide just yet. I was then told that I had missed my 48h window in which I could close the account. Brilliant.
I received a Managed Account Agreement which I was told to sign should I wish to trade. I did not sign it, as I made it clear in a prior phone call that I did not wish to trade. I did not know how to close my account and was at the time too busy to further pursue the matter.
In an attempt to close the account and retrieve my funds I sent the necessary documentation to the compliance department. My second withdrawal request was then confirmed. Shortly after this, £100 were deducted from my account due to not trading for over 45 days (this is a policy they have), despite my making clear in the earlier telephone call, before my Managed Account Agreement was sent to me, that I had no interest in trading and did not wish to pursue the matter.
I contacted two members of staff via webchat, who informed me that my second withdrawal request was denied due to insufficient funds. However, on my trading client account it still marks my request as “pending”. Furthermore, I was informed on the web chat that the minimum amount to be withdrawn from my account would be determined by my account manager. The account manager that I have not authorised to manage my account, as I haven't signed the form allowing them to.
So effectively I can't close my account because it has funds on it, but they won't let me withdraw the funds because that needs an account manager.. It's an endless cycle.
The company seems very obscure, and not many reviews exist of it, but the three that I saw were very critical accusing them of not allowing withdrawals.
Their terms and conditions, as well as bonus terms and conditions (https://www.brokerz.com/legal/#/
) state things such as: "These Bonus Terms and Conditions shall be governed by the law of the Marshall Islands, without giving effect to the principles of the conflict of laws." "These Terms and any relationship between the Company and the Client shall be governed by law applicable in Anguilla and subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Seychelles courts. The Company shall have the right, in order to collect funds owed to the Company by Client or to protect the Company's rights such as good-name, intellectual property, privacy etc., to immediately bring legal proceedings against Client, in the Client's residency and according to the Client's residency applicable law."
So, apart from being a lesson in not being scammed, and not using unlicensed traders, I've got a few questions:
1.) The company is registered in Sofia, Bulgaria, but they mention the Marshall Islands (Pacific), Seychelles (North of Madagascar) and Anguilla (Caribbean) in their terms (see above)? Legally how does that work? That seems quite fishy to me.
2.) None of this was ever in writing. I opened the account in a state of scam-induced confusion over the phone, but never signed anything. How much power do they have legally over me if nothing is in writing?
3.) I've basically resigned myself to the fact that the money invested is a write-off. It's a significant, but not huge sum of money, but I just want to close my account and move on with my life. The problem is this, in the terms and conditions: "Dormant Fee: Brokerz will charge dormant account balance, for inactivity in trading of 45 days and above, for the sum of 100$ a monthly fee after this period of time ."
So if that fee runs down my account, fine, but will my trading account then go into debit? Will I suddenly see -100, -200 etc. for every month I don't trade with them? And should I not wish to pay that fee, would that make me legally vulnerable, despite never having signed anything? And since the company is unlicenced and I live in the UK, and there are three jurisdictions mentioned in the terms, how would any legal dispute work?
I've sent them an requesting an immediate withdrawal and cancellation of the account. But basically, what happens from here? How liable am I to any legal pursuits?
Long post, and this may be the wrong subreddit, or the wrong questions to ask, but at the moment I'm pretty much at my wit's end. Thank you for any replies or help.
Caribbean Startup Bitt Secures Seed Round USD$1.5 Million in Capital Led by Avatar Capital, to Bring Digital Currency Financial Services to Emerging Markets. Powered by AlphaPoint's state-of-the-art technology, Bitt releases its flagship service—the Bitt Exchange—to the public. submitted by
BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS—March 30, 2015 – Founded in 2013 by Gabriel Abed and Oliver Gale, Bitt is a digital asset exchange, remittance channel, and merchant-processing gateway based in Barbados. Bitt, Inc. has partnered with Avatar Capital to expand operations in the growing cryptocurrency industry. This latest partnership has firmly established Bitt as the frontrunner in the Caribbean’s burgeoning cryptocurrency ecosystem. Launch
Powered by AlphaPoint’s state-of-the-art technology designed by veteran Wall Street traders, Bitt’s trading platform is a highly powerful, user-friendly exchange that allows clients to trade securely and seamlessly. Bitt facilitates international Bitcoin trading in 11 major fiat currencies, such as the US Dollar (USD), Great Britain Pound (GBP), Canadian Dollar (CAD), Euro (EUR), and Barbadian Dollar (BBD).
“We were very excited to be selected by Bitt to power their exchange and support their vision of lowering costs for payments and remittances,” said Vadim Telyatnikov, CEO of AlphaPoint. “By connecting their platform to global exchanges, Bitt can offer Caribbean residents competitive exchange rates and deep liquidity from around the world.” Funding
Bitt closed its landmark $1.5 million seed round from Avatar Capital, a Caribbean investment group based in Trinidad and Tobago. This initial capital investment will allow Bitt to continue to develop and expand its core services.
“Avatar backs Bitt with full confidence,” said Peter George, Director of Avatar Capital. “We are pleased to invest in the development of the cryptocurrency industry in the region. It is our hope that this investment benefits the people of the Caribbean and becomes the catalyst for digital currency trading in this part of the world.” Serving the Underbanked
“The Bitt Exchange is a cornerstone project for digital finance in the Caribbean. By facilitating trade between traditional and digital currency markets, Bitt is creating the platform for very low-cost international commerce and remittance between the people who need it most - the millions of unbanked and underbanked citizens in the Caribbean,” said Gabriel Abed, Bitt CEO. Abed was recently recognized by Wall Street Journal as ‘Mr. Bitt.’ In Paul Vigna’s recently released book, “The Age of Cryptocurrency,” Abed is quoted as viewing “digital currency’s low transaction fees as a quantum leap for small Caribbean nations that currently maintain their own currencies.” Emphasis on Security and Performance Bitt provides a high-frequency trading platform, which boasts military-grade security. With an independent multi-signature HD wallet system, which maintains 95% of customer Bitcoin offline, Bitt users can buy and sell cryptocurrency with peace of mind, knowing their assets are secure. “With a team of financial experts, IT network security engineers, cryptographers, and software developers from around the world, as well as banking facilities and asset liquidity spanning many major international fiat currencies, Bitt is poised to become the leading digital currency exchange in the Caribbean region,” said Oliver Gale, Bitt’s CFO. About Bitt
Bitt is a Caribbean-based digital asset exchange, remittance channel, and merchant-processing gateway. With a high-frequency trading platform, rigorous security and an easy-to-use trading interface, the Bitt exchange is an ideal solution for individual or professional trading. Bitt’s core focus is on providing the highest levels of access, safety, customer service, transparency and accountability, visit www.bitt.com
. About AlphaPoint
AlphaPoint (est. in 2013) is the leading exchange technology platform provider to support digital currencies. The company powers some of the top bitcoin and alt-coin exchanges in the world, and is faster than traditional exchanges with the ability to process nearly one million transactions per second. By easing the adoption of digital currencies, AlphaPoint's secure, scalable, and customizable platform is helping change how businesses and consumers transact. AlphaPoint has offices in New York City, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. For more information, visit www.alphapoint.com
This is a nice article I saw on Yahoo! http://finance.yahoo.com/news/bitcoin-jesus-offers-passport-tax-072001465.html;_ylt=AwrBEiF3V59TnxMAHdWh7IlQ
Open Yahoo Finance Open SearchCancel
‘Bitcoin Jesus’ Offers Passport, Tax-Free Tropical Paradise for Wealthy Clients Bloomberg By Jason Clenfield and Pavel Alpeyev 7 hours ago He's known as Bitcoin Jesus in the world of cyber-currencies. Though he can't promise you heaven, he is offering a haven: a condo in the Caribbean that comes with a new passport and almost zero taxes.
Meet Roger Ver, ex-U.S. citizen, ex-convict, millionaire investor, self-described libertarian and founder of Passports for Bitcoin.com.
More from Bloomberg.com: ‘Bitcoin Jesus' Calls Rich to Tax-Free Tropical Paradise
The ever-expanding universe of what you can buy with bitcoins includes a hotel stay in Rome, a kimono in Tokyo, and cable TV in the U.S. Ver, a pioneer investor in bitcoin startups, now says he can add citizenship to the list.
Specifically, that's the right to live in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, two sun-kissed islands a three-hour flight from Miami. St. Kitts has run an invest-and-become-a-citizen program since 1984, making it the oldest of its kind, says the country's website.
More from Bloomberg.com: Iraq Army Tries to Roll Back Sunni Militants' Advance
Plunk down $400,000 for real estate and you get a passport that allows visa-free travel to 120 countries. There are no taxes on personal income or capital gains and the islands' restrictive disclosure laws offer shelter from outside scrutiny, according to the Tax Justice Network, a think tank that studies secrecy jurisdictions.
Ver's website, in English, Russian and Chinese, offers a way to purchase a piece of that paradise with bitcoins. He says it will help people who are hemmed in by government restrictions on cash transactions.
More from Bloomberg.com: Medtronic Is Biggest Yet to Renounce U.S. Tax Citizenship
"I'm going to China next month to explain to people that bitcoin is the easiest way to pay for things outside the country," Ver said during a meeting this month at the plush 51st floor lounge of Tokyo's Roppongi Hills.
Trader, Hacker, Boxer A trim 35-year-old with a crew cut, in a black polo shirt and slacks, Ver looked a little like an electronics salesman at a big-box retailer. Still, a crowd of followers hung on his every word. A former derivatives trader at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., a hacker, and a professional boxer were all there to pitch ideas or talk bitcoin with the master.
Ver got rich investing in bitcoin early and has become a regular speaker at industry conferences. He's provided seed funds for a dozen prominent startups including Kraken, an exchange where people buy and sell the digital currency, and Blockchain, an online wallet used to store it.
Bitcoin was invented in 2008 as a currency that could be used without government oversight. That's drawn people who want to trade illicit goods like drugs and guns. It's also gained support from libertarians like Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal who plans to build an artificial island where people can do whatever they want. Ver's passport site, his latest venture, is a scaled down version of that ideal.
Evade Taxes "St. Kitts' government is much more libertarian compared with the U.S.," Ver said. "It's not even close. So all these early bitcoin adopters, of course if they have the means, they'd rather be a citizen of St. Kitts."
However they pay to get in, people usually seek out countries like St. Kitts so they can evade taxes, says John Christensen, director of the Tax Justice Network. The U.S. Treasury Department last month said the island's passports are being used to facilitate financial crime.
"To be blunt, we talk about places like St. Kitts as places where you go to escape from responsibilities," Christensen, an expert on tax havens, said by phone from London. "St. Kitts sells secrecy on the international market and, unsurprisingly, attracts all types of dirty money."
Gaining Citizenship Erasmus Williams, press secretary for St. Kitts, didn't respond to phone calls or e-mailed questions about the Citizenship-By-Investment program.
A woman who answered the phone at the Office of the Prime Minister said the program is "not a matter of buying passports, it's about gaining citizenship."
Nonetheless, no residency or visit is needed, just that $400,000 investment -- re-sellable after five years -- or a non-refundable $250,000 donation to the country, according to St. Kitts's official website.
For those who don't get the message the first time, the site repeats in bold print: "No personal visit required."
Still, wealthy Chinese have a tough time buying in because government limits on money transfers stop them from sending more than $50,000 worth of cash overseas each year.
"The processing agent in St. Kitts told me he feels bad for all of his Chinese clients," Ver said. "They have to reach out to all different friends and relatives and get them to all send the money in drips and drabs. Bitcoin solves all of that."
Anonymous Ledger That's because it was designed to be anonymous. While an online public ledger stores every single Bitcoin transaction, the entries don't include the names and addresses required for bank accounts.
In practical terms, a person in Beijing can buy bitcoins at home through BTC China, OKCoin or numerous other exchanges. With a few swipes on a smartphone, the money can then be beamed to St. Kitts with no government on Earth the wiser.
The U.S. lost its allure for Ver after he was sentenced to 10 months in federal prison after selling about 14 pounds of explosive without a license on the EBay auction site. The product, "Pest Control Report 2000," was basically a firecracker to scare birds away from cornfields, Ver says.
Locked Up "I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't hurt anybody. I had nothing but happy customers and the U.S. government locked me in a cage because of that," he said. "So I want nothing to do with those people. I don't want to support them. I want them out of my life."
Ver moved to Tokyo after finishing probation in 2006. He got his St. Kitts passport on Feb. 13, 2014, and abandoned his U.S. citizenship by the end of the month.
"I would have done it the same day if I could," he said. "They told me I had to have a one-week cooling-off period. They said, ‘Did you know if you renounce citizenship, you won't be able to serve in the armed forces?' It was like, ‘darn.'"
The U.S. is unusual in taxing its citizens no matter where they live. Recent laws requiring disclosure of foreign bank accounts has driven up the number of wealthy Americans looking to sever ties with home. A record 2,999 renounced their citizenship in 2013.
Although Ver's computer parts business made him a millionaire by the time he was 25, the real money came after he bought tens of thousands of bitcoins in 2011. They cost about $1 each then. Today they trade at about $600, according to the CoinDesk price index.
Bitcoin Evangelist Ver said he earned his moniker, Bitcoin Jesus, by telling anyone who would listen about bitcoin well before other venture capital companies paid any attention to the digital currency.
One of the people who got a dose of Ver's sermons was the agent who processed his application for citizenship, Paul Bilzerian. Bilzerian is a former corporate raider who moved to St. Kitts after long battles with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and two stints in prison for securities fraud and conspiracy to defraud the government of millions.
The two men bonded over the belief they'd been targeted by U.S. authorities, according to Ver. Together, they started passportsforbitcoin.com in April, Ver said.
Bilzerian, who is one of several-dozen licensed government processers in St. Kitts, declined to comment in an e-mail.
Their website says a second passport insulates you from governments that intrude on citizen's lives. The site also has testimonials from Ver and Bilzerian's son, Dan, a 30-something professional poker player with millions of followers on Instagram, where he posts pictures of himself with half-naked women, along with his gun collection. He didn't respond to e-mailed questions forwarded through his press agent.
"I value freedom more than almost anything else and a second or third passport provides me insurance just in case the U.S. government decides to value security over freedom," Bilzerian's son writes on the passport website.
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