The CEO of defunct bitcoin exchange Moolah insists he is working on returning money to customers, and that he has already processed almost $900,000 in refunds.
Ryan Kennedy, who ran Moolah under the name Alex Green until the firm declared bankruptcy in mid-October, argues that he is not being given a fair hearing by former customers and investors.
“The majority of Moolah customers were able to successfully withdraw their money from the platform,” he told the Guardian. “There is one major third-party creditor, Syscoin, that we are currently unable to process a transaction for.
“I am still working on processing withdrawals, auditing the platform, and trying to figure out what has happened in full, and where funds have gone. Contrary to popular belief, I am not missing.
“If I was going to run, I would not still be processing refunds (and the altcoin withdrawals are something I can easily prove on the blockchain). As I have not committed any act of fraud, I have no intention of going anywhere. My business has collapsed, and I now need to deal with shutting it down in as clean a fashion as possible.”
Moolah dominated the dogecoin meme
Until it collapsed, Moolah was a comparatively large Bitcoin exchange, letting users convert the cryptocurrency into conventional money and vice versa. What’s more, it dominated the niche, meme-based cryptocurrency Dogecoin through publicity stunts such as sponsoring a Nascar driver and charity donations garnering a thank you video from Will Ferrell.
But questions had been raised about Moolah. In July, the Daily Dot reported that the firm had shifted headquarters multiple times in less than six months, before launching a questionable fundraising effort which one expert said “may not be in technical compliance” with US securities law.
Kennedy says the company operated based on legal advice in Switzerland where it was based at the time, which told him the company was “in the clear”. “I worked damn hard to get the company to where it was before it collapsed, and until it did, we have a solid consumer/merchant platform that was very well used,” he said.
Alex Green’s mysterious online persona
Green also had an unusual online persona. The Daily Dot reported that he boasted of having “zero online footprint”, shared no photos of himself, and hadn’t met the majority of his own employees.
In the world of cryptocurrencies, pseudonyms and mysterious identities are common; bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto himself had “zero online footprint” before publishing the Bitcoin proposal.
In mid-October, Green came clean: the reason for his lack of online footprint was because he had changed his name, “in an attempt to start my life over and have some peace”.
“My identity was kept secret as I had a valid business idea and I didn’t want my reputation to impact upon it,” he says. That reputation manifests in the form of crowdsourced investigations into Kennedy’s past, such as his entry in Encyclopedia Dramatica (essentially, Wikipedia for 4Chan), which documents everything from allegations of “stealing linen” at an anime convention in 2005 to his failed web-hosting venture Flirble.me in 2013. But he maintains that the vast majority of the claims are baseless.
‘I maintain my innocence’
“I have been accused of many things over the years, and whether you believe them to be true or not, I believe in innocent until proven guilty (and I maintain my innocence) … There are a lot of people claiming things in regards to former companies, including one particularly vocal user who has changed the amount he has apparently lost on four separate occasions.
“At this stage, there is nothing that I am aware of that I actually need to work through. There are plenty of people jumping on the bandwagon and making accusations/claims, but there are very few people who have a real and valid issue.”
Kennedy blames this latest collapse on a hacking attack which stole around 1000 bitcoins from the wallet of MintPal, a separate bitcoin firm which Moolah had acquired over the summer.
But while Moolah is by no means his first failed venture, it may be his last. The scale of the collapse dwarves those of previous companies, and has attracted legal attention; Kennedy and Moolah are now the subject of a high court injunction brought on behalf of Syscoin, the last major creditor of the firm, which prevents him selling bitcoins that he doesn’t have legal control over.
“I plan to follow the injunction in full”, he says, adding that “their lawyers seem to be trying to use this partially as a publicity stunt, we have been told to mostly keep quiet by our own”.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010