US Attorney announces unsealing of guilty plea by Ponzi scammer Renwick Haddow

Maria Nikolova

In the plea, Haddow admits to his own involvement in the fraudulent scheme related to Bar Works, as well as to making material misrepresentations about Bitcoin Store Inc.

After numerous continuances granted in the case against Ponzi scammer Renwick Haddow, there has finally been some development in the proceedings and it is related to the activities of Sam Aura, another member of the “Bar Works” conspiracy.

On Thursday, May 23, 2019, Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced the unsealing of an Indictment in Manhattan federal court charging SAVRAJ GATA-AURA, a/k/a “Sam Aura,” with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for engaging in a scheme to defraud victims by making material misrepresentations about the management and operations of a company called Bar Works Inc. and related entities. Gata-Aura was arrested on Thursday morning.

In addition, U.S. Attorney Berman announced the unsealing of a guilty plea, on May 8, 2019, by Renwick, a/k/a “Jonathan Black,” 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 him called Bitcoin Store Inc.

Haddow was originally charged in June 2017 and extradited from Morocco in April 2018. He pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud and is cooperating with the Government in this investigation.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated: “Haddow and co-defendant Savraj Gata-Aura allegedly solicited funds from investors with fictitious claims about Bar Works’ management and performance. They are now being held to account for the blizzard of lies they told to get money from their unsuspecting victims.”

From September 2015 through at least about June 2017, Gata-Aura and others partnered with Haddow in soliciting investments in Bar Works through material misrepresentations concerning, among other things, the identity of Bar Works’ management and the financial condition of that company. Specifically, Haddow adopted the alias “Jonathan Black” to further hide his role in Bar Works in light of the negative publicity on the internet about his regulatory history in the United Kingdom. Notwithstanding Haddow’s control over Bar Works, Haddow caused the Bar Works offering materials to list Black as the chief executive officer of Bar Works and claim that Black had an extensive background in finance and past success with start-up companies. He also made material misrepresentations to investors about, among other things, the operations and historical performance of both Bar Works and Bitcoin Store.

Between September 2015 and June 2017, Bar Works raised over $36 million from investors. Gata-Aura personally obtained at least $3.1 million in exchange for his participation in the scheme.

Gata-Aura, 33, 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, pleaded 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.

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