British Man Found Guilty Of Participating In Fraudulent Investment Scheme Related To Co-Working Business
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that JAMES MOORE was convicted at trial last Friday of wire fraud and conspiracy for engaging in a scheme to defraud investors by making material misrepresentations about the management and operations of a company called Bar Works Inc. and related entities (“Bar Works”). MOORE was found guilty on June 7, 2019, of both counts he faced, after a one-week trial before the U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “James Moore was part of a ring of insiders who helped conceal that Bar Works was run by a known fraudster. Innocent and unaware investors lost millions of dollars thanks to his contributions to the scheme. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to bring to justice those who prey upon the investing public.”
According to the Complaint and Indictment in the case and evidence presented at trial:
From 2015 to 2016, MOORE and others partnered with Renwick Haddow, who is also a British citizen, in soliciting investments into workspace leases in a co-working business called Bar Works through material misrepresentations concerning, among other things, the identity of Bar Works’ management. Previously, Haddow had been disqualified as a director of any United Kingdom company for eight years, and was sued by the Financial Conduct Authority, a British regulator, for operating investment schemes that lost investors substantially all of their money. These sanctions and lawsuit were publicized extensively online.
In order to conceal his role at Bar Works because of the negative publicity on the internet related to past investment schemes and government sanctions in the U.K., Haddow adopted the alias “Jonathan Black.” Notwithstanding Haddow’s control over Bar Works, MOORE and others knowingly distributed the Bar Works offering materials listing Black as the Chief Executive Officer of Bar Works and claiming that Black had an extensive background in finance and past success with start-up companies. As MOORE well knew, “Jonathan Black,” was an entirely fictitious person, created to mask Haddow’s control of Bar Works. Among other things, MOORE helped devise pitch materials that contained the misrepresentation, coordinated a substantial sales force to recruit investors knowing that the materials contained the falsehood, advised Haddow as to how to continue to conceal the truth concerning the identity of “Jonathan Black,” and affirmatively represented to agents for investors that he was communicating with CEO “Jonathan Black.” MOORE also received in excess of $1.6 million in commissions for his participation in the scheme.
Last month, U.S. Attorney Berman announced the unsealing of a guilty plea, on May 8, 2019, by Haddow in which he admitted to his own involvement in the fraudulent scheme related to Bar Works, as well as to making material misrepresentations and misappropriating investment funds in another company created by Haddow called Bitcoin Store Inc. (“Bitcoin Store”), and agreed to cooperate with the Government. Haddow’s case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain.
Further, last month Mr. Berman also announced the unsealing of charges against
Savraj Gata-Aura, another citizen of the United Kingdom, in connection with the same scheme. As alleged in the Superseding Indictment containing those charges, Gata-Aura also partnered with Haddow in soliciting investments into workspace leases through material misrepresentations similar to MOORE’s by affirmatively misrepresenting that “Jonathan Black” ran the company. Overall, the scheme is believed to have fraudulently raised more than $50 million from unwitting investors.
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MOORE, 58, of the United Kingdom and Miami, Florida, was convicted of one count of wire fraud and one count of wire fraud conspiracy. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Savraj Gata-Aura, a/k/a “Sam Aura,” 33, of the United Kingdom and New York City, has been charged with one count of wire fraud and one count of wire fraud conspiracy relating to the Bar Works scheme. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Haddow, 50, pled guilty to one count each of wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy relating to the Bar Works scheme, and one count each of wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy relating to the Bitcoin Store scheme. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
The statutory maximum penalties are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants would be determined by the respective judges. The charges against Gata-Aura are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the FBI and thanked the Securities and Exchange Commission, which has separately brought civil actions against MOORE, Haddow, and Gata-Aura, for its assistance.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Vladislav Vainberg and Martin S. Bell are in charge of the prosecution.