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The Jack of All Trades: Abramoff, Andrade, AML Bitcoin.

Author: 
Nigel Morris-Cotterill

You'd have thought that you'd heard the last of US lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the self-styled lobbyist, film producer, writer and businessman when he was awarded the coveted additional position, without which no American businessman's career is, seemingly, complete: that of convicted felon. After all, when you've been jailed for fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery and tax evasion you'd keep your head down, wouldn't you.

But then again, when your entire career has been working with dodgy businesses and doing dodgy political deals, perhaps there's nothing left to do but be dodgy over cryptoassets. A crypto-coin especially designed to be resistant to money laundering: AML Bitcoin was tailor-made for Abramoff. Now he's awaiting sentence and the company behind it is in disarray - and spending investors' money on litigation.

But what lies behind it is even more fascinating and takes us on a global trek from Las Vegas via Texas to London, Singapore and Melbourne - then across the Pacific to Northern California.

It would be easy to assume that the story of Jack Abramoff started with the lobbying scandal that saw him jailed for six years in 2006 and was released on parole in 2010. It is reported that after his release he spent two years in a half-way house during which time he went to work as a book-keeper in a pizza restaurant where he earned up to USD10 per hour.

But no, that was the culmination of a long career in what he is said to have once described as "a system of bribery, legalised bribery for the most part, that still exists today." He started a second career as a consultant in avoiding abuses in lobbying, writing a book, being featured in a film, running seminars on identifying corruption for US Federal Agencies. He reinvented himself as a spokesperson for the anti-corruption industry (ironically, itself largely a lobbying activity), was granted a "political reform" radio chat show on XM Satellite Radio (which also hosted several shock-jocks)

The rebranding was a front.

In 2017, Abramoff joined forces with Rowland Marcus Andrade, born in April 1978, who had formed a company named "National AtenCoin Foundation." Andrade is from Texas, which is where much of Abramoff's political and business connection network originates.

Andrade was appointed (a technical term meaning he became) a director of a UK company, Checkpal Limited, in February 2016 when the company was formed. He resigned in December that year. The company filed accounts up to 31 December 2016 and was struck off in September 2019. The company was formed as ATEN GROUP LIMITED and said to be in "business and domestic software development." In November 2016, just before Andrade's resignation, it changed its name to CROSSVERIFY Limited and then in April 2018, changed again to CHECKPAL Limited. Keep up: there will be names many of you will recognise.

The company was formed by 1st Formations which housed its registered office at 71-75 Shelton Street London WC2H 9JQ until it was changed, in December 2016 to Tower 42, Level 21 25 Old Broad Street London EC2N 1HQ, the former NatWest tower that, as the bank's headquarters, was so important it got a personalised postcode. Companies House shows that there are two companies registered to that address: ATRG2 limited and GLIDERA Limited. The latter is currently subject to a proposal to strike it off.

The address is that of PILLSBURY WINTHROP SHAW PITTMAN which describes itself as "an international law firm with a particular focus on the technology & media, energy, financial, and real estate & construction sectors. " And it is. It is, therefore a surprise that only two companies would be registered there. Or, perhaps, Pillsbury Winthrop knows nothing about it.

Checkpal, as it became at the same time, changed its registered office back to 71-75 Shelton Street London WC2H 9JQ in April 2018. A few days later, Companies House issued a notice that the company would be struck off after two months: that happened in the following September.

In that time, it had had a succession of directors:

Sven Daniel Koechler - Appointed 26 March 2018, resigned 1 April 2019
German, living in Germany, director and sole shareholder of FALCON EVENTS AND TOURISM - appointed 27 Feb 2015, no resignation noted, company dissolved December 2017, voluntary dissolution of dormant company. He remains the director and company secretary (appt April 2017 on the formation) of AIRCRAFT SOLUTIONS RAK Limited, registered in Manchester England which is shown as active but subject to a proposal to strike off.

Ralph James Horne - appointed 7 June 2017, resigned 9 April 2018
In September 2018, formed JRJ CAPITAL PARTNERS Limited which, in August 2020, changed its name to FINSGATE CAPITAL Ltd. The company is active and its accounts are up to date. But it was almost subject to compulsory striking off in December 2019. The action was discontinued in Feb 2020. The accounts are signed off by Horne and Joseph Nash and Jaswinder Hanspal, both named in the accounts as "Director". Nash is shown as an Australian living in Singapore and holding no other UK directorships. Hanspal is shown as having only Finsgate as a current directorship having resigned from COVEST Limited in November 2019 and COVEST HOMES Limited in October 2020.

However, things are not quite as clear-cut as they seem.

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