Mar 14, 2019 at 03:20 UTC feature
Best-known internationally as the chief executive of the blockchain smartphone startup Sirin Labs, Moshe Hogeg is becoming known for something else in Israel – mounting lawsuits.
As reported extensively by regional news outlets, a lawsuit filed in January claims Hogeg misappropriated funds from the sale of new cryptocurrencies for both his own gain and to benefit his investment portfolio, including Sirin Labs. The judge has reportedly given Hogeg until March 15 to settle with the plaintiff, Chinese investor Zhewen Hu.
This follows an earlier case involving Hogeg’s company Invest.com that has since been settled.
Specifically, in the case of the ICO for the startup Stox, a company co-founded by Hogeg and endorsed by boxer Floyd Mayweather (resulting in a fine from the SEC), the lawsuit claims Hogeg inappropriately withdrew proceeds from its $35 million ICO and used the funds for other projects, including Sirin Labs, his VC firm Singulariteam and the blockchain startup Orbs.
The Stox lawsuit, which focuses on several sections of the startup’s white paper, alleges Hogeg encouraged people to invest in the Stox ICO by touting a partnership with his own firm, Invest.com, having effectively “made a contract with himself” to inflate interest in the offering. It also says Hogeg presented himself on Telegram as a mere investor rather than a leader of the project, giving the illusion of more participants.
As for the lawsuit related to Stox, Hogeg told CoinDesk: “The whole matter is completely made up” and “will be quickly resolved in court.”
The Stox lawsuit also mentions allegedly mismanaged funds going to Sirin Labs, the startup of which Hogeg is currently CEO. Sirin raised more than $157 million in a 2017 token sale and is now seeking distribution partners for its Finney smartphone . Hogeg said he is himself one of the leading investors in Sirin Labs. After leaving Stox in 2017, he took the reins of the company from Kazakhstani investor and Sirin Labs founder Kenges Rakishev.
The lawsuit claims some of the funds Hogeg allegedly mismanaged during the Stox ICO, before he joined Sirin Labs, were distributed in some fashion to the blockchain company Orbs.
Beyond the Stox ICO, Hogeg was listed that same year as an advisor to the LeadCoin ICO , launched by a startup called Webydo that Hogeg also invested in through Singulariteam. Singulariteam’s second managing partner is Rakishev. Tangled web
In light of the questions that have been raised about Stox and Sirin Labs, CoinDesk partnered with the blockchain analytics firm Alethio, part of the Brooklyn conglomerate ConsenSys, to use its new reporting tools to explore the ICOs in which Hogeg has been involved.
Alethio prepared a three-pronged report detailing its analysis, which covered the Stox ICO, the Sirin Labs ICO and the LeadCoin ICO.
The report concludes that all three ICOs have a single top holder in common, a wallet that as of February 2019 still held roughly 3 percent of the supply of all three tokens, respectively. This wallet, 0x8c373ed467f3eabefd8633b52f4e1b2df00c9fe8, also engaged in a unique pattern of transfers during the LeadCoin ICO, which will be explored below.
Although the blockchain analysis by Alethio doesn’t show who controlled any wallets, and Hogeg’s spokesperson declined to clarify if they are aware of the owners, the blockchain analysis did show that the wallet with all three tokens received LeadCoin tokens indirectly, through a repeating pattern of proxy transfers, from the LeadCoin sale itself.
Separately, Alethio also found that during Sirin Labs’ SRN token sale, one wallet received 4,564 ETH from the SRN sale’s official wallet. This second wallet (0x59b681402bcb2c8460a506a88d75be1cf1326528), later sent back the same amount of ETH to the SRN sale’s account, potentially creating the appearance of more activity.
Alethio data scientist Danning Sui explained that her team “found a circle of ETH transfers” related to the SRN ICO. Lastly, this second wallet eventually received 50 percent of all SRN tokens, according to Alethio’s analysis. Many of the SRN tokens from this wallet appeared to end up on exchanges shortly after the sale.
Both of these examined wallets have transaction histories that are publicly recorded on the ethereum blockchain.
Hogeg’s spokesperson said they could not share information about the wallet that recycled ETH funds in the Sirin Labs ICO and eventually received half of the token supply, except to say: “This wallet participated in Sirin Labs’ presale.”
When asked why this wallet received SRN tokens from the sale, Hogeg’s spokesperson replied: “We cannot share additional information.” ETH funds from the token sale were sent to wallet 0x59b681 and then sent ETH back into the sale’s account. (Image courtesy of Alethio) What the blockchain says
Sui explained that the blockchain data does not suggest any connection between the parties that operated these wallets involved with withdrawals from the L...