Christen Ager-Hanssen crying in court room

Christen Ager-Hanssen sentenced 10 months in UK prison for contempt, data theft

Christen Ager-Hanssen can now add ‘fugitive jailbird’ to his inglorious curriculum vitae.

On May 25, Ager-Hanssen tweeted that he had filed an appeal of a judgment issued by the UK High Court of Justice’s Kings Bench Division on May 3. The judgment imposed a 10-month prison sentence on Ager-Hanssen for contempt of court due to “deliberate” breaches of court orders related to Ager-Hanssen’s theft of property—both physical and intellectual—belonging to his former employer nChain. [Disclosure: CoinGeek’s owner is an nChain shareholder.]

Last week, Norway’s leading business newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) ran an article titled Christen Ager-Hanssen sentenced to ten months in prison. The article quoted an nChain spokesperson saying the company was “satisfied with the court’s decision, and will continue to use all available legal means to recover our intellectual property rights and stolen data, and hold Ager-Hanssen accountable for the damage he has caused.”

Ager-Hanssen was quoted in the same article putting a brave face on things, saying “if I have to go to prison for it, I’m happy about it and proud of it.” Ager-Hanssen may well regret those words, given that he also told DN that he’d complied with court orders to return the devices and data he took from nChain, as well as granting access to his personal email accounts to an independent expert to determine whether Ager-Hanssen has fully complied with the orders. 

However, the nChain camp claim that Ager-Hanssen flat-out lied to DN regarding his full compliance with the court orders. In their view, Ager-Hanssen continues to stall delivery of data that nChain insists Ager-Hanssen had no right to take with him following his unceremonious sacking from nChain on September 29, 2023 for conducting himself “in a serious and inappropriate manner.”

Ager-Hanssen’s ouster followed his attempted takeover of nChain via a failed boardroom coup, after which Ager-Hanssen fled the scene of the crime, taking with him digital hardware and documents that rightfully belonged to nChain.

nChain promptly initiated legal action to compel the return of its property and sought an injunction barring Ager-Hanssen from publicizing the contents of the confidential data he’d stolen. The U.K. courts sided with nChain in both instances, but Ager-Hanssen refused to comply with these orders.

Nor, as we shall see, did he bother to fully cooperate with the court proceedings, which contributed to his decision to do another runner, this time to his native Norway (where the local tax authority will almost certainly take a closer look at their returning citizen’s financial escapades).

Can’t be bothered

Ager-Hanssen originally hired one law firm to represent him in the U.K. courts, then replaced this group with another before they too dropped out of the picture. Ager-Hanssen told the court he was hiring new attorneys but never actually got around to it, leading Mr. Justice Jacobs to conclude that, since October 27, 2023, Ager-Hanssen “has not participated in these proceedings in any meaningful way.”

Ahead of a January 19, 2024 hearing, Ager-Hanssen sent an email claiming that he was ‘not in a fit medical state’ to participate, a claim the court viewed as “effectively an application to adjourn,” which was rejected. Whatever his true mental state, Ager-Hanssen failed to participate in that January hearing, nor any subsequent proceedings.

Attempts to serve court orders on Ager-Hanssen in the U.K. resulted in him fleeing the U.K. for Norway. But Justice Jacobs declared that Ager-Hanssen “is unquestionably aware of the original orders which were made” and Jacobs had “no doubt that [Ager-Hanssen] has been properly served by e-mail pursuant to the relevant court orders.”

Jacobs failed to find “any reason has been advanced for [Ager-Hanssen’s] nonappearance,” leading Jacobs to conclude that Ager-Hanssen had waived his right to appear.

Jacobs noted that Ager-Hanssen submitted a doctor’s letter in January that claimed the defendant was suffering from “stress related problems.” No doubt the loss of his income stream did indeed cause Ager-Hanssen many sleepless nights wondering where his next meal ticket might be found.

But Jacobs ruled that Ager-Hanssen would presumably have engaged in “some treatment” since January. Moreover, no further letters from the medical establishment have emerged to suggest Ager-Hanssen is so mentally discombobulated that he can’t read a calendar or offer some—any—defense of his actions.

For these and other reasons, Jacobs found that Ager-Hanssen was in contempt of court. Jacobs concluded that “this is a case where an immediate custodial sentence is appropriate.” In arriving at this conclusion, Jacobs cited the number of “deliberate” breaches, the fact that these breaches are ongoing, and Jacobs’ view that “as far as I can see, there is nothing really that can be put forward by way of mitigation to explain or excuse or to mitigate” Ager-Hanssen’s unprofessional conduct.

True to fraudulent form, Ager-Hanssen tweeted on May 22 that he was only “now aware of the judgment through online resources,” while also claiming that he “never had the opportunity to defend myself.” (In making claims that clearly contradict reality, Ager-Hanssen may be trying to buttress his mental unfitness argument.)

Regardless, Ager-Hanssen has now filed an appeal of Jacobs’ ruling, which will require him to show up in person for a hearing in the U.K. Given the unlikely chance of his appeal proving successful, he will almost certainly be sent to prison at the hearing’s conclusion. With his personal freedom on the line, the world will soon learn whether Ager-Hanssen truly embodies the popular U.K. expression ‘all mouth and no trousers.’

Birds fly, fish swim, grifters grift

The DN article also referenced the Ager-Hanssen Exposed website, which has published a number of articles detailing Ager-Hanssen’s unflattering history of financial escapades, including coverage of the May 3 ruling by U.K. Mr Justice Jacobs.

This episode is the latest blow to Ager-Hanssen’s carefully crafted image as a master businessman, mover and shaker. In reality, Ager-Hanssen has never built any successful business on his own, choosing instead to attach himself, remora-like, to successful hosts and suck as if his life depends on it.

His typical M.O. involves worming his way into companies, after which he (in the words of one Swedish lawyer) “creates pure hell … Eventually everyone gets so tired of him and wants to throw him out. Then he offers to sell his share at a huge premium, or he offers to buy the others’ shares at a discount.”

At other times, Ager-Hanssen simply lies, such as his failed attempt to acquire software firm OpenText. That grift involved attacking OpenText’s share price by fraudulently telling other companies that an Ager-Hanssen firm owned their source code. That lie ended up costing Swedish pensioners millions when the government-run pension fund that had been bankrolling Ager-Hanssen was left holding the bag.

Ager-Hanssen has had many other ‘greatest misses’ of this sort (non-exhaustive recaps can be found here and here), often resulting in companies being forced into bankruptcy. Ager-Hanssen has previously been declared personally insolvent and his assets sold at auction to resolve unpaid tax bills.

While many of his ignominious exploits date back a quarter-century, more recent events have shown this is one skunk that will never lose the identifying white stripe on his back. 

Nothing true about True Blue

Ager-Hanssen’s predilection for misrepresenting reality was on full display this spring in a report by U.K. media outlet the Guardian, which detailed Ager-Hanssen’s pitch to build a sketchy app targeting Conservative party members.

Ager-Hanssen promoted his ‘True Blue’ app to Tory leadership as a way to “boost donations” but also generate revenue by allowing corporations to market products/services to the Tory faithful, with the party receiving a cut of the sales.

Ager-Hanssen’s ‘digital marketing’ (sounds so much nicer than ‘data harvesting’) firm Addreax would receive an equal cut of these sales, which Ager-Hanssen claimed could top £160 million per year.

But Ager-Hanssen’s presentation to the party suggested that Addreax already had partnerships with a host of mega-brands, including Amazon, Apple and Coca-Cola. Predictably, this came as news to the companies when contacted for confirmation by the Guardian.

A follow-up Guardian report revealed that Ager-Hanssen had secured his original meetings with Tory brass by donating £70,000 to the party, using funds belonging to nChain. As the Guardian noted, a donation of this size would have required nChain board and shareholder approval, which Ager-Hanssen failed to even ask for, let alone obtain.

In the wake of the Guardian’s reporting, conscious that this latest grift had been permanently rumbled, Ager-Hanssen deleted ‘The Conservative Party’ from his profile on X/Twitter. Curiously, he has yet to add the words ‘failed’ and/or ‘inept’ before the phrase ‘Entrepreneur & VC,’ but hey, the year is still young.

Ager-Hanssen’s escape to Norway left him without the ability to enhance his ‘successful businessman’ cosplay by swanning about Mayfair private members clubs in search of deep-pocketed individuals suffering from marital discord. The truth is, any dissatisfied husband or wife who accepts Ager-Hanssen’s offer of ‘help’ is already divorced—from reality.

Ager-Hanssen has a long history of ducking responsibility for his actions but dodging his U.K. troubles will prove far more difficult. Particularly as it cuts him off from London’s real movers and shakers, forcing him to look closer to home for new marks he might fleece. So if anyone in Norway sees this smarmy Artless Dodger coming, give him a wide berth … and keep a firm hand on your wallet.

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