Tag Archives: UBS

andrew katz-matthew krueger-seaquake.io fraud

Seaquake.io Fraud; So-Called Crypto Trading Firm Makes Investor Money Disappear

(Source: Law360.com ) Andrew R. Katz, aka Ross Katz, aka Stark Katz  an Arvada, Colorado man who is last known to reside in either of New York City or Southern California, and uses California, Colorado, Florida and New York drivers licenses while claiming to be a former FX trader for EFG Bank, and who now presents himself as co-founder of  Seaquake.io, a”digital asset infrastructure company”, along with Seaquake CFO Matthew J. Krueger of San Francisco, who claims to be a former PayPal “Finance Manager” and the former “Head of Finance” for Venmo, have both been named as Defendants in a Federal Court complaint alleging the two men advanced a systematic scheme to defraud a Florida-based investor group. Also named in the action is Dylan Knight, a UK man who is listed as a co-founder and Chief Technology Officer for the company. The Federal Court complaint cites multiple accounts of securities fraud, fraud in the inducement, and wire fraud.

THIS STORY UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2020 TO MARK THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THIS EXCLUSIVE REPORT. CLICK HERE FOR THE UPDATE

According to a Zurich-based private equity fund manager who had been repeatedly approached by Katz to invest, All of the patented elements of old-fashioned investor fraud have been perpetrated by these Seaquake characters, casting yet another shadow of skepticism on the entire digital asset industry. It is amazing how brazen these individuals are. Based on their apparent actions, one can hope that law enforcement officials will do their jobs and prosecute these people quickly. Even if the wheels of justice spin slow, anyone in the industry should be alert to these people and be aware they have already destroyed any future professional career in any industry.”

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Andrew R. Katz, Seaquake.io Founder (l), Matthew J. Krueger, Seaquake “CFO”

According to the Federal Court complaint, Katz lists former jobs at UBS Bank and EFG Capital in investor offering documents, the company’s website, as well as his Linkedin profile, despite Finra having no record of Katz being licensed by that securities industry regulator at any time, and despite EFG Capital having no record of his employment. More important, the court filings include a series of email communications, text messages and group chat messages on Linkedin in which Katz and Krueger made a series of fraudulent representations that induced the investors to enter into a so-called “SAFE Agreement” with the company. Investors were of the belief the funds would be deployed to a high-frequency trading application that Seaquake principals, including so-called CTO Dylan Knight of the UK, claimed to be operating.

THIS STORY UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2020 TO MARK THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THIS EXCLUSIVE REPORT. CLICK HERE FOR THE UPDATE

According to the complaint, only several days after the investors executed the agreement with the company and wiring funds to a Seaquake account at Signature Bank in New York, Katz then informed the investors the high-frequency trading application was “not in fact in production and the [investor] funds would be placed into a money market account until such time as the software was ‘production ready.” Defendants Krueger and Katz also made a series of assertions as to pending institutional investors who committed to providing capital to Seaquake, all of which turned out to be false, according to the filing. According to court documents and independent background searches, it turns out that Katz has driver licenses in New York and California, and is also registered to vote in Florida. Katz has a history of criminal charges, from trespassing charges in New York to domestic abuse charges in Los Angeles. This private investigator’s background report is telling. Other background searches indicate that Katz, along with his mother, Alyson Katz of Arvada, Colorado were plaintiffs in a class action law suit brought against a Utah-based school for emotionally-challenged youth, a facility that Katz was apparently sent to by his parents and attended for at least two years while he was a teenager.

selen katz instagram seloupe andrew katz seaquake scamIf only Andrew Katz’s wife, Selen Katz, a Turkish national and Instagram Influencer who apparently works as a swimsuit model, didn’t need Katz to help her secure a Green Card. Otherwise, perhaps she’d realize that being married to a scam artist is not the path to a happy future in the U.S. More important, actions pending against Katz could raise eyebrows from US immigration authorities who will be evaluating her request for citizenship. She should hope that more recent frauds committed by her husband and his partner in connection with PPP loans don’t add fuel to the criminal investigation fire burning under their butts.

THIS STORY UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2020 TO MARK THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THIS EXCLUSIVE REPORT. CLICK HERE FOR THE UPDATE

Back to the primary coverage….Once the investors realized they had been scammed and then demanded the return of the funds, Katz and Krueger took steps to dissolve “Seaquake Partners LP”, the corporate entity the investors sent their funds to, according to the corporate register agent. According to records in the filing, Defendants Katz and Krueger wrote to the investor informing “we will not communicate with your attorney and we have no obligation to provide any further information..” Concurrently, the Defendants transferred the investor funds from the company account at Signature Bank in New York to multiple, newly-created Seaquake entity accounts at a Compass Bank BBVA branch in California, near where Krueger lives. Thereafter, bank records indicate Katz and Krueger dispersed the funds to various internal company accounts, and then transferred a bulk of the investor’s funds to crypto exchange Coinbase, which they moved days later to crypto exchange and custody platform Binance.

As acknowledged by the defendants’ attorney, Yasin Daneshfar of Florida law firm Becker and Poliakoff, Katz and Krueger also moved tens of thousands of dollars to personal accounts the defendants established at Compass Bank. Attorney Daneshfar argued “the so-called “SAFE Agreement” did not preclude the defendants from dispersing the money as they saw fit.” Daneshfar further acknowledged in a recent court appearance that, in addition to the defendants enriching themselves with much of the investor’s funds, the investors funds have also been used by Katz and Krueger to pay the Becker law firm in their effort to defend themselves against the investors in federal court. When challenged with this use of funds by the federal court judge who pointed to the series of communications from Katz to the investors, Attorney Daneshfar was said to have responded to the judge with a smirk and a shrug of his shoulders.

While much of the information obtained in the federal court filings may seem to be the source of good fodder for a ten cent crime novel, according to one Switzerland-based venture capital executive who is focused on the digital currency space and who had also been solicited by Seaquake to serve as both an advisor and to provide investment funds, “All of the patented elements of old-fashioned investor fraud have been perpetrated by these Seaquake characters, casting yet another shadow of skepticism on the entire digital asset industry. It is amazing how brazen these individuals are. Based on their apparent actions, and whether or not they get caught by law enforcement officials, they have effectively destroyed any future professional career in any industry.”

david streltsoff-seaquakeDespite all of the shenanigans, David Streltsoff, a Senior Vice President for San Francisco broker dealer “US Capital Global” and a former salesman for high-frequency trading firms was apparently not deterred from associating himself with Seaquake. According to his LinkedIn profile in the months of September through November 2019, Streltsoff served as “Business Development Executive” for the company, while also a registered broker-dealer for US Capital. Streltsoff’s rofile was updated at the end of November after Streltsoff was served with a federal court subpoena for information pertaining to his involvement with Seaquake. According to a former investigative journalist, now a due diligence advisor to fund managers evaluating crypto startups, Streltsoff told him “It took one too many days for me to figure out this company was peddling nothing more than vaporware, and the scam accusations against them were eye-opening, so I terminated my association with them.” Jeffrey Sweeney, the CEO of US Capital Global has not replied to inquiries.

Update: Since the litigation was filed, at least one other investor has been identified as having been scammed. That investor was apparently introduced to the company in June 2019 by a friend who was employed by Seaquake.io as “business development executive.” That friend sent the investor a so-called Safe Agreement, along with wire payment instructions to a Seaquake bank account held by a Bank of America branch in Colorado. Once that investor learned of the recent court action, the investor contacted Katz and demanded the return of the money sent to Seaquake in July. Katz replied via email stating “we have no record of having executed a Safe Agreement with you, and the former employee provided you with incorrect wire instructions, so we never received your money, and we don’t owe you anything.” When the investor provided Katz and Krueger with Bank of America correspondence that affirmed the Seaquake account information was correct and confirmation from the bank the wire payment had in fact been credited to the account Katz created, Katz ceased all further communication. That investor has since filed a criminal complaint and the former executive is said to be cooperating with law enforcement authorities. Perhaps Mr. William Bao Bean, a principal of SOSV Ventures / Chinaccelerator –which recently disclosed making an investment in “Seaquakes”, as did Jeremy Colless, Managing Partner of down-under VC “Artesian Capital” both failed to get the memo…(?)

THIS STORY UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2020 TO MARK THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THIS EXCLUSIVE REPORT. CLICK HERE FOR THE UPDATE

In November, the federal court judge lifted the temporary restraining order on bank accounts controlled by Seaquake principals Katz and Krueger, and cited concerns as to whether the Florida court was the appropriate jurisdiction to litigate the action. Plaintiffs are expected to continue the litigation.

Katz was last seen in December at the Hotel Kai Tulum resort in Cabo San Lucas vacationing with his wife, who posted an assortment of photos baring ‘birthday bling’ while sipping margaritas.

THIS STORY UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2020 TO MARK THE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF THIS EXCLUSIVE REPORT. CLICK HERE FOR THE UPDATE

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One More Corporate Bond Electronic Trading Platform; Still None Include Bond ETFs

Well Matilda, as if the universe of corporate bond electronic trading platforms isn’t crowded enough, despite clear signs of consolidation taking place for this still nascent stage industry (e.g. upstart Trumid’s recent acquisition of infant-stage Electronifie) , one more corporate bond e-trading platform has its cr0ss-hairs on the US market. The latest entrant is UK-based Neptune Networks, Ltd., a consortium controlled by sell-side investment banks that has inserted electronic trading veteran Grant Wilson as interim CEO. Neptune’s lead-in value proposition’ is perfecting the IOI approach to capturing liquidity, and also offers a tool kit of connectivity schemes that bridge buyside and sell-side players.

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Grant Wilson, Interim CEO Neptune Networks

Promoting indication-of-interest orders ( pre-trade real-time AXE indications) as opposed to actionable bid-offer constructs that are ubiquitous to equity trading platforms, is a technique that other US-based corporate bond trading platforms are already advancing. Neptune is also not alone in their positioning an ‘all-to-all’ model as a means to inspire buy-side corporate credit PMs and traders to embrace electronic trading, a seemingly counter-culture technique that enables them to swim in the same pool as sell-side dealers aka market-makers. The distinction that Neptune brings to the table is girth and size, thanks to its sponsors Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Citi and Deutsche Bank, each of which maintain board seats.  Unlike the other players in the space that are focused on building a “round lot marketplace” (as opposed to retail size orders that MarketAxxess (NASDAQ: MKTX) specializes in, Neptune carries over 14,000 individual ISINs daily, claims that its average order size is 5mm,  total daily gross notional in excess of $115bn, and according to Neptune’s marketing material, over 22,000 individual ISINs have been submitted to the platform since January 1st.

Lots of e-bond trading platforms, but none are incorporating bond ETFs, at least not yet.

As compelling as Neptune’s value proposition is, some corporate bond e-trading veterans are quietly wondering whether these initiatives are somehow missing the memos being circulated throughout the institutional investor community profiling the rapid adoption of corporate bond ETF products in lieu of their long-held focus on individual corporate credits.

According to one e-bond trading veteran, “Anyone who follows the trends [and follows the money] can’t help but appreciate that a broad assortment of Tier 1 investment managers, RIA’s and even public pensions’ use of bond ETFs is increasing in magnitude by the week, not the quarter.  If you’re operating an electronic exchange platform for corporate bonds, and your users are rapidly increasing their use of fixed income exchange-traded funds, having a module for ETFs would seem to be a natural next step.”

Others in the industry have suggested to MarketsMuse reporters that enabling users to trade the underlying constituents against the respective corporate bond cash index along with a module for create/redeem schemes, or even a means by Issuers can distribute new debt directly seems to make “too much sense.”  But then again, these same industry experts acknowledge the political landmines that would most assuredly be encountered by those trying to disrupt and innovate within corporate bond land are perhaps too much for those who need to prove their business models before aiming at new frontiers. Continue reading

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Convicted Libor Trader Launches Crowdfund Campaign

(FinanceMagnates.com) Supporters of Tom Hayes, the former UBS rates trader and the first person to be convicted for the manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR), have launched a crowdfunding appeal via UK platform Fundrazr to raise £150,000 ($217,403) to underwrite a further appeal against his conviction. The former trader, currently serving an 11-year prison sentence, was also ordered to pay a confiscation order of £878,806 ($1,240,267) in February by a UK criminal court.

The crowdfund campaign hopes to to raise 150,000 pounds to pay for a fresh attempt to appeal against his conviction.

Hayes, a former UBS and Citigroup derivatives trader, last August became the first person to be convicted of fraud offences linked to the setting of benchmark Libor rates. In sentencing him for dishonesty, the judge said a message must be sent to the world of banking, “where probity and honesty are essential”.

He was initially handed a 14-year jail sentence – one of the toughest in the UK for white collar crime – before it was reduced to 11 years on appeal four months later. However, his simultaneous appeal against the conviction failed and in March the Court of Appeal also refused leave for his case to be brought before the UK’s Supreme Court.

Hayes on Tuesday formally announced plans to bring his case to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which looks at miscarriages of justice and can refer a case back to the appeal courts – usually on the basis of compelling new evidence.

 

Hayes was initially given a 14-year sentence before it was reduced to 11 years on appeal four months later. However, his concurrent appeal against the conviction failed and in March the Court of Appeal also refused leave for his case to be brought before the UK’s Supreme Court.

This week, Hayes formally announced plans to bring his case to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which examines miscarriages of justice and can refer a case back to the appeal courts, usually on the basis of compelling new evidence.

Hayes’ family is now said to be in possession of fresh evidence, some of which he had requested in his trial but which the prosecution did not supply. His latest attempt to appeal comes three months after six former brokers he is alleged to have conspired with were acquitted in a separate London trial.

Hayes’ attempt to appeal is supported by David James, a member of the House of Lords, who is reported to have said that Hayes had been victimised and called for a more precise legal clarification of Libor and how it should be supervised.

Last year, European Union lawmakers gave their backing to a draft law introducing direct supervision of important benchmarks like Libor. The UK has also introduced a law requiring Libor to be compiled by a third-party administrator which fulfills certain requirements.

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UBS breaks ETF launch record

 

UBS is aiming to break into Europe’s exchange-traded fund big league following the listing of 64 of its funds on the London Stock Exchange, the largest number ever admitted to the LSE on a single day.

According to the LSE, the launch, which follows the listing of a suite of products by Vanguard Asset Management, has taken the total number of ETFs listed in London to 1,000.

The total value of ETF trading on the LSE has exceeded £500bn since the launch of the first fund in 2000, the exchange said.

UBS is carrying out the launch through its UBS Global Asset Management business. Its ETFs offer ‘A’ shares to retail investors and ‘I’ shares to institutional investors. Global head of ETFs Clemens Reuter said the unit size of ‘I” shares is a thousand times larger than ‘A’ shares: “Because they are dealt in bulk, the total cost of ownership becomes smaller.”

Of its London offerings, 17 will replicate the movement of indices through swap arrangements and a further 49 will operate in physical markets through the purchase and sale of underlying stocks. They will cover a range of equity sectors, plus investments in more esoteric areas such as infrastructure, rare earths and hedge funds.

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