Business 28 November 2018

Dennis Wafula

Israeli crypto businessman charged with embezzling ICO funds

Moshe Hogeg, a known cryptocurrency entrepreneur in Israel, is reportedly facing embezzlement charges in connection with the missing funds from two initial coin offerings (ICOs). According to local media outlets, the petition against Hogeg was brought to court by 17 shareholders of the now-defunct Israeli binary option company, AnyOption.

The Times of Israel reported that the petitioners sought to liquidate IDC Investdotcom Holdings, a Cypriot company that was operated from Israel and associated with Hogeg. In their petition, the shareholders claimed Hogeg stole assets and profits from the company, rendering it insolvent.

The petition further explained that the company, which is better known as Invest.com, held two successful ICOs with each collecting “tens of millions of dollars.” Hogeg, however, allegedly did not share the revenue from the token crowdsales with the shareholders per their contractual agreement.

According to reports, issues between the shareholders and Hogen rose after the crypto entrepreneur failed to meet new agreement terms. The changes started when AnyOption was forced to merge with Invest.com in June 2017 before the Israeli government ban on binary option took effect in October of the same year. As filed by Shy Datoka, one of the primary shareholders of AnyOption, Invest.com was interested in getting all the assets that AnyOption had to offer. Initially, Invest.com offered forex and CFD trading to investors, but later it decided to try to raise money through ICOs.

The two companies changed their merger agreement terms in early 2018. The companies originally agreed that shareholders from AnyOption would own 35% of Invest.com, but under the new terms, the shareholders were entitled to $3.5 million and a share or token of a new cryptocurrency company they launched, called Stox.

Stox raised $34 million in ETH in August 2017, although the value later rose to $60 million. The crypto company also held another ICO in February for a project called Zodiac, which raised $33 million, according to the petition.

A spokesperson for Hogeg told reporters that Zodiac is a private project and has never issued any tokens, claiming that all shareholders belonging to AnyOption had received all their tokens in Stox.

This year, Hogeg has ventured into what many may term as a shopping spree. He recently bought a parcel of land in Tel Aviv at $19 million. He also bought the Israeli top soccer club Beitar Jerusalem for $7.2 million. Hogeg is also reported to have donated $1.9 million to Tel Aviv University, which will build a blockchain research facility that will be named after him.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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