Crypto project: I invented Mintlayer, raised $18 million and lost everything64 minuti
Dubai, August 30, 2022, I was fiddling with the zip in a narrow bathroom of a worn-out and particularly crowded hostel. I had tiptoed my way in, trying to get to the bowl unharmed, avoiding the traps left by guests like Abdul, known for having a hard time hitting the target. When suddenly the phone rings. Unknown number.
Do I answer or not? Calls from call centers to UAE number are not uncommon. But while I’m there…. “Hello?” I begin.
On the other side of the phone, the officer in charge of licensing and labor affairs of the free-zone of Ajman: “Mr. De Luigi? you have been reported and I have here the forms to put you on the blacklist, it is dangerous, the Emirati police are coming to pick you up. You are lucky that I was able to contact you ”.
Ending under arrest in the United Arab Emirates would have been just the latest of the many traps laid by the conniving scum described in this article, who are still – for now, alas – at large and in a position to commit such acts of wickedness.
But before delving into what happened, let’s take a step back.
DISCLAIMER: this is a true story. Facts, people and places correspond exactly to reality. Except Abdul. I don’t know what that guy was called. There was certainly a certain Sultan, but I don’t think he was the one to get it out of the jar.
- INVESTORS’ MONEY
- LIES AND BETRAYALS
- WHERE I AM FROM WE CALL IT CORRUPTION
- THE ILLUSTRIOUS RUBBOLI IS A PARAGON OF TRUE DECENTRALIZATION
- BATTLE IN THE OPEN FIELD
- FALSEHOOD IS SECOND NATURE TO HIM
- MOCKING INVESTORS WITH CHARLIE SHREM: AN UNEXPECTED TRAGIC OUT-TURN
- THE LIES ABOUT HIS PAST AT TETHER/BITFINEX
- MINTLAYER WASN’T THE FIRST TIME: THE FOX AND THE CAT AT BQT
- THE DEFAMATION CAMPAIGN THROUGH THE PRESS
- SAN MARINO DOES NOT INTERVENE (YET)
- THE ATTACK IN DUBAI, BUT LOVE ALWAYS WINS
- OPEN ENDING: SEQUENTIA
I came up with a project that raised 18 million in cryptocurrencies, and I lost everything overnight. This is the story of Mintlayer. An incredible story of deceit, betrayal and millions of dollars of investor’s money squandered in unbridled luxury, which I will recount to you in excruciating detail. If in the middle of the article you think you have already read enough, I advise you to NOT continue reading, it only gets worse from there with ever steeper escalations, and I wouldn’t want you to die of indignation!
Mintlayer was a project aimed at creating a Bitcoin sidechain for the tokenization of financial assets, directly exchangeable with BTC via peer-to-peer swaps. Starting in July 2019, I wrote the whitepaper, then the consensus paper and all related documentation. In the summer of 2020, Enrico Rubboli, I and others met in order to actually give light to that idea, by ‘signing’ a parasocial agreement between “founders”, with a simple handshake. At the time, we were yet to decide what the final corporate structure would be, and it would only be internally agreed in late spring 2021, when sufficient funds began to arrive from investors to be able to structure the project. Meanwhile, the fundraising was done through the only seemingly appropriate corporate vehicle that already existed at the time, namely the San Marino company RBB srl, of which Enrico Rubboli is the sole shareholder and director.
In April 2021 I took part in a meeting with San Marino Innovation and their consultants from the Politecnico di Milano, in order to apply for RBB’s authorization to issue the Mintlayer token, which would be granted in San Marino. Following the submission of a document in which I responded to some enquiries from the Politecnico, San Marino Innovation authorized the whitepaper and the Mintlayer project.
From my point of view, trusting RBB was an error dictated by various circumstances, not least the assumption that the legal framework to which RBB was subjected, that is the authorizations and (alleged) controls of San Marino Innovation, could constitute a guarantee of the good work of Enrico Rubboli and RBB. But things don’t always go as hoped or expected. After having preached so well for years about the untrustworthiness of the State apparatus, I ended up being too trusting myself! Damn, some things you never really learn.
But flowers can also often be born from the greatest of shits. If you are optimistic by nature, be sure to read the last chapter of this never-ending story.
Are you ready? Let’s go!
In January 2022, towards the end of Mintlayer’s last fundraising round, i.e. to collect the resources to develop the blockchain and its ecosystem, Enrico Rubboli refused to transfer the funds to a multi-signature wallet shared with the other co-founders. At the same time, we discovered that Rubboli was already spending a significant portion of the $ 5.2 million raised in the first round (before subsequent collection rounds were even planned) on personal expenses, such as the new home he then moved to, and a Porsche Panamera. If the total amount spent for personal purposes is unknown to date, it is in any case proven that this expenditure is at least one fifth of what was collected at the time.
In May the first round of raise was declared closed and money flowed into RBB as “contribution to the Mintlayer project” (according to SAFT contracts with investors). However, already in August Rubboli opens the company AGI s.r.l. (here the company certificate), a sort of empty shell, to which he transfer € 955,450 (here you see the transfer in the balance sheet as a non-interest bearing loan) to buy his own house in strada la Creta, in San Marino (here the notarial act), where he moves his residency. The PORSCHE / 971 GA12 1644100 (PANAMERA) can be seen in both the balance sheet and in this notarial act.
For the sake of completeness, we specify that according to the 2021 company statement there are also 282 thousand euros of production costs of which:
- €32 thousand in personnel
- €62 thousand in selection of personnel
- €30 thousand in emoluments to Rubboli as company administrator
- €35 thousand in travel expenses
- the remainder in consultancy, bank charges and internet services
Furthermore, in the RBB balance sheet appears a transfer recorded as “immobilizzazioni immateriali in corso e acconti” (immobilisation in non-material assets and down payment) for €1,177,315. Part of this amount was for sure transferred to HLTC, the company opened the 26th july 2021 in Dubai that Rubboli owned for the 33% (here the notarial act), while the remaining 67% belongs to his partner Luca Viviani, who lives in Minsk, Belarus, where he is well-known in the poker circle, and managed (until this summer) the restaurant Pinsa Romana da Giancarlo. It’s assumed that HTLC pays for the personnel for the actual development of Mintlayer, but with no transparency at all, we don’t know in which measure the expense from HTLC are legitimately attributable to the Mintlayer project and what, instead, has been spent with other purposes. Finally, the company statement shows 145 thousand euro in participations in various other companies: in fact, RBB owned 100% of a british company that was later sold – on 03/02/2022 – and a share of REALHOUSE S.R.L. The remainder of those 5.2 million euros collected for Mintlayer beyond what is detailed above, are transferred to the in the RBB account on the Kraken exchange in the form of USDC, USDT and ETH for €1,357,690 and the rest was sent to Bank Frick, the Liechtenstein bank where RBB has an account.
As you will see reading the article, Rubboli will try any tricks to hide these transfer of money with any means:
- He offers a huge amount of money to investors to hold up his lies. This is, in my opinion, “corruption between privates” according to the provisions in force in the San Marino law, we are about to see if in the criminal chancellery of the San Marino microstate they share the same opinion).
- He denies any kind of transparency over the destination of the funds collected, even reaching the point in which he formally communicates, through his lawyer, that it’s not their business how Rubboli spends money, since they are not RBB shareholders.
- Defamation using the press against the “former collaborators” spreading blatant lies
- Keeps making promises, never fulfilled, regarding transparency, fund management, audits and other to team, investors and communities
The rest of the team had no visibility on the transactions made by RBB, but from January 2022 we began to get suspicious and insistently asked for supporting documents, accounting books and more to verify everything. I did not know the state of Rubboli’s personal finances before Mintlayer, to the point that when I learned that in November he had spent around 15 thousand dollars (I go by heart, I hope the good Rubboli will forgive me if I am inaccurate) in Armani clothes in just one day, I immediately asked his partner Luca Viviani for an explanation, who told me that Rubboli had paid out of his own pocket. At first, I therefore thought that he could already be rich in the past, regardless of Mintlayer’s money, and that he could therefore afford the huge expenses in luxury and acquaintances in Dubai.
Later, I had several conversations with Davide Caminati, longtime friend of Rubboli and who helped manage the Italian Telegram chat, to try to understand something more about the character. Caminati reiterated to me over and over again with conviction that he thought it was absolutely impossible that Rubboli could have used Mintlayer funds for personal expenses, explaining that he was completely sure that Rubboli has always been rich.
However, in January I learned in a phone call with Luca Viviani and the lawyer Mazzanti (employed by RBB and co-founder) that Rubboli had actually used the money from the raise for the new villa and Porsche Panamera. However, Rubboli tried for months (until March 2022) to deceive his comrades, saying that he has already returned the stolen money, that the authorities (San Marino Innovation) thoroughly check every operation, and also that he is organizing himself for the multi-signature account. Unfortunately, at that time we did not yet have the financial statements and documents attached here to prove the contrary. Furthermore, Rubboli was saying that he had made some transactions through the company only for tax advantages and that he had already returned the money for the project. However, he has never offered evidence of what he claims.
The lawyer Mazzanti then explained to me that he had already been asking Rubboli for months for the supporting documents relating even to the (alleged) costs that Rubboli said he had anticipated out of his own pocket for the project, at the time of the pre-seed collection (the very first financing round of 80 thousand euros in 2020), but never received anything about that. Indeed, looking at the 2021 budget there are also some details of 2020: here we see that RBB has an income of 80 thousand euros (which I would not know how to attribute to anything other than the pre-seed financing) of which 44 thousand euros are marked as profit for Rubboli’s pockets!
Since Rubboli avoided every question since January 2022, I insisted, not only that he move the funds to a multi-signature wallet and show every expense, but also on other fundamental issues that my colleague Andreas Kohl, head of fundraising, and I had already raised in the past, such as the destination of the tokens in the “company reserve” that, out of the blue, Rubboli states in a completely unilateral way that must remain exclusively in RBB (until that moment, every decision relating to the project was taken in a collegial way). In this way, the tokens directly controllable by him (adding the undistributed quantities of the other allocations) would be about 40% of the total. Yes, that’s right: fully 40% of all existing tokens in the hands of a single individual, for a project that makes decentralization its mantra.
As an answer to my insistence in seeking answers about transparency and management of Mintlayer resources, Rubboli decides – out of the blue – to suddenly close all my accounts on the platforms he manages and to kick me away from some telegram chats with investors (those of which he is admin).
My gmail Mintlayer account is suddenly closed by Rubboli the day of signing the contract with Portal DeFi, after a negotiation I managed and that could have been the most important partnership for Mintlayer. When Chandra Duggirala of Portal replies to my last email by sending the final version of the agreement, that email does not reach me (except via screenshot from Andreas). The partnership was only announced but had no follow up.
Stunned by Rubboli’s gesture, I continued to lead the team as best as I could through the channels I had access to. In the meantime, I was trying to establish a dialogue with Rubboli. The lawyer Mazzanti, who also acted as a lawyer for Mintlayer, seemed to want to fix the situation, but was in an odd position. At first Mazzanti said he wanted to solve the problem by talking privately with Enrico, but after these talks, the lawyer completely changed his position. In fact, when I finally manage to get a meeting with Rubboli, Mazzanti is at his side like the grey eminence..
The surreal moment in which for the first time I felt like I was in a movie with real “bad guys”, the real antagonists par excellence of the story, was when Mazzanti, looking straight to me in the eyes, totally contradicted his positions and statements of a couple of weeks earlier (including those in writing), trying together with Rubboli to completely rewrite every fact related to Mintlayer.
Before this meeting with Rubboli, Andreas Kohl told me that Enrico was sure to “resolve” the matter by paying me to leave. If he thought he could pay me to make me an accomplice to his misdeeds he was very wrong. After years of preaching against any kind of “scam”, it would have been a real mockery that my project, which I created in years of hard work and first presented in Italy and around the world, in the end turned out to be a scam.
Following the meeting with Rubboli and Mazzanti, my lawyers ask for the documents that were promised to us at the meeting itself, documents to show us all past expenses and a business plan to manage future expenses. Nothing will ever be sent to us. After a first “tough” communication from us, Mazzanti slips away saying that he has never been Rubboli’s lawyer, he only wanted to resolve things in a good-natured way.
A new lawyer from San Marino replaces the old one to represent Rubboli. Despite the ongoing promises made to my lawyers to show us what we are asking for, after an endless two-month procrastination it is clear to the whole team that Rubboli is just trifling with us and trying to buy time. No documentation will ever be passed to us. In short, Rubboli goes from trifling with the Mintlayer working group to doing the same with my lawyers and – perhaps, I imagine – even his lawyer, who will in fact be replaced later on with a third lawyer.
In the meantime, the Mintlayer machine had been at a standstill for a long time: for example, the numbers on social networks not only stopped growing, but even fell in huge decline, due to the total inactivity and halt to all the initiatives I had planned and was carrying out. Just as an example, thanks to the launch platform I designed and developed with my team (launch.mintlayer.org) and all the related initiatives, the Telegram group from a handful of followers reached 40,000 users. Since my “exit”, thousands have abandoned social networks, dropping to 25 thousand and today it is still in continuous decline.
All campaigns, projects and partnerships I was running have been blocked. People were looking for me from all over, for explanations: team, advisors, investors, users, suppliers, etc. And I was still trying – despite everything, with the risk of losing even more my reputation – to not leak anything, in a tiny glimmer of hope of being able to solve the situation.
I was far too optimistic.
An Italian pre-seed investor who, like many others, had invested because the project was supported by my name, asks me for an update on Mintlayer. At that point, I realize that I must at least talk to the first Italians who invested in the pre-seed and seed sale phase. I contact them all (a group of 8 people) explaining what was happening and asking them to try to bring Rubboli to reason, in the hope that – perhaps – feeling pressure from many sides would have moved him from his crazy positions. The situation, however, does not improve, on the contrary it worsens immeasurably.
In fact, the lead investor of the project, L.R., asks Andreas Kohl for information. Andreas then feels compelled to tell him what’s going on. The three of us make a phone call and he listens to us and says he wants to actively resolve the situation. He then asks Rubboli for an explanation, who admits to him that he spent investors’ money on his home, specifying he did it for tax reasons, thus creating a “virtuous circle” (see screenshot).
At that point L.R. also calls Luca Viviani, who tells him a series of self-evident lies, even saying that I have never been kicked out of the project! L.R. finally understands that he is being trifled with and asks for the return of the money invested (here screenshot).
Rubboli denies him the refund. So L.R. arranges with Andreas Kohl and other Mintlayer managers and advisors to send a group communication to Rubboli. I myself ask Andrea Scorrano, one of the moderators of the Telegram chats, to join the signatories of that letter. Scorrano until that moment did not know about these events, so he investigates by asking Enrico directly. It is here that Rubboli realizes that the circle of people who are aware of his misdeeds is growing more and more, so he devises an evil “counterattack” and invites L.R. in a phone call.
In those days I told my mother for the first time what was going on. She listens worried and then she tells me: “Enrico will try to bribe the investor”. I never expected it could get this far and I said “come on mum!”. Luckily, Andreas took part in the call and was able to record it, you can find the recording here at this link.
I emphasize that the crime of corruption between private individuals is provided for by both Italian and San Marino law and the “attempt” is sufficient to make it a crime, it is not necessary that the payment is finalized.
In the video call, Enrico asks L.R. to have his venture capital fund continue to publicly support RBB and to take a public stance to “destroy Alberto’s bullshit” (you can hear this exact words in the video), since he fears that I will tell other investors about his misdeeds. In return, he offers him the future profit of an investment of $900,000 that would have been taken from the funds other investors contributed to the Mintlayer project. In addition to this, Enrico proposes to L.R. to secure his $ 900,000 investment by bringing it into an escrow, so that L.R. could recover it in the event authorities would intervene on RBB. In short, 1 million and 800 thousand dollars of the total pool of investor funding would have been engaged in this ill-conceived deal between him and L.R. (and not available for Mintlayer development) so that L.R.’s venture capital would continue to support RBB and with the explicit aim of defaming me.
L.R. refuses the bribe, writing to Rubboli that he cannot accept (see screenshot). Later, together with various members of the Mintlayer team, he signs the following communication (see screenshot) addressed to Rubboli, where it is said that the situation requires that the money must be transferred to a non-profit foundation in which Enrico should take part, thus ensuring continuity and fairness to the project. In the email, signed by some important figures of the team and phrased in a completely conciliatory tone by the good Chris Connelly, manager of the Mintlayer community, it is also specified that it is the intention of everyone in the team that Rubboli remains in charge of development. In this way, the team was turning a blind eye to all previous behaviors in the attempt to find a compromise and save the project and reputation.
In short, despite what Rubboli had done, a large segment of the team tried once again to reach out to him with the sole aim of publicly saving the face of the project and carrying it forward in an honest way.
We never expected that Rubboli, despite that too generous compromise offered to him, could think, in a sort of ego delirium, of clashing against everything and everyone in order to keep the money without embarrassment, or shame and – to make it worse – to transform what was still a private matter into a public delirium.
In fact, he will not reply at all to the email received from the team, lead investor and advisors with an internal communication. On the contrary, he publishes this crazy article, directly on the Mintlayer website, entitled “Why Mintlayer doesn’t have a foundation”, and advertises it in the telegram chat. The article explains that Mintlayer will never have a foundation to manage the funds raised because – just for the sake of true decentralization! – everything must remain in RBB and in his sole administrator’s hands, Enrico Rubboli! I’m not joking, you can read it here at this link.
The arrogant and childish attitude in responding to the lead investor and other important figures with a public article, rather than in private, is just the icing on the cake! Read what Rubboli writes (with a few cuts to not get you bored):
“Registering under a foundation allows crypto entities to try to get closer to the original purpose of cryptocurrencies in the first place: decentralization. Of course, the foundation itself becomes a point of centralization, defeating the original intent of said approach […] a foundation is open to internal politics, corruption […] The centralized nature and internal politics of a foundation leave a protocol open to influence, be it internal or from an external source such as an investor or government entity”.
What is the alternative? The article proceeds: “RBB LAB, the company, incorporated in 2019 and headed by Enrico Rubboli […] In fact, the transparency and controls put in place by San Marino and the legal framework of the country will do nothing but accelerate the end goals of Mintlayer: to achieve full decentralization.”
Easy, isn’t it? Rather than managing the funds raised with a non-profit and regulated foundation, for the sake of decentralization let’s leave all in the hands of a single person and his company with share capital of 1000€ and sole administrator who, among other things, is provably squandering investors’ money on his own vices. After all, the legal framework of San Marino provides for everything! Sure, we have seen!
But that’s certainly not the end of it, events plunge into an increasingly disturbing black vortex.
Andreas Kohl was the main interlocutor with all investors, to the point that many knew only him and never had any contact with Rubboli. Andreas felt embarrassed like a thief (but to be clear he did not steal money or do anything unethical at all! Only the opposite) – reading an article like the one posted on the Mintlayer site. He then decides to meet Rubboli in person and tells him that he is behaving in a shameful and criminal way, that the article on the website is ridiculous and a source of enormous embarrassment for him, and that things cannot go on like this, that he must stop with that madness and reintegrate the people kicked off back into the project.
In response, Rubboli not only got to the point of literally “pushing” (physically) Andreas, stopping only when the latter asked him “are we getting physical?”, but immediately after, he deleted all Andreas Kohl’s accounts and kicked him off all the chats owned by Rubboli (including those with investors that Andreas had recruited).
And he didn’t stop here, Rubboli also started threatening to expel all the other signatories of the letter he had received. For example, to Christopher Connelly he says “you are playing a dangerous game”, while to L.R. says that the signatories are all “happily working away” (see screenshot).
Indeed, that’s what happened next: Rubboli kicked out all the signatories of the letter who did not resign of their own accord. In a continuous escalation, counting those who are kicked out or those who have left, he will even find himself without his personal secretary. 11 people who were collaborating until January 2022 are no longer in the team.
Some collaborators in HTLC stop perceiving their salary, without receiving any communication or the termination of their contract. Others receive a communication saying they believed to a fake narrative explaining they can’t work anymore. But hold onto your hats, you haven’t read the crazy parts yet!
Andreas Kohl, seeing himself ousted from one day to the next, is forced to communicate the incident to all his investors, explaining that he has been kicked out of what is, – or better it was, now – the Mintlayer project, and sends a communication first to the team (see screen) and then, very similar, to investors. Investors go on a rampage not only against Rubboli, but initially also against us in the team, accused of “negligence” for allowing Rubboli to have full control of the money, to the point that some say they intend to sue not only to Rubboli, but also us.
At that point, we decide that we cannot sit idle, that we will help the investors in the lawsuits against Rubboli and that, regardless of everything, we will carry out the project and give the angry investors the token of the new project (later baptized Sequentia), regardless of whether or not they get their money back from RBB. We therefore contact two law firms in San Marino so that they can represent investors.
It is now clear to Andreas that the name “Mintlayer” is doomed, so he distances himself from the project with a public tweet.
In a short time, over 35 investors formally requested a refund from Rubboli via email for a total amount of approximately 10 million euros.
Mintlayer’s Telegram chats starts being filled with negative comments: at that point Rubboli censor comments and begins defaming me and Andreas, with the help of two of his “kapo” (I specify that these two people have been informed since the beginning of the behavior of Rubboli; please keep this in mind if you scroll through the chat to read). Among other things, I was publicly accused of wanting to destroy the Mintlayer project, when it is evident that I have never published anything on Rubboli or Mintlayer until today, with this article which is, in effect, my first public statement. Definitely too late, I would say! My heartfelt apologies for not letting you know earlier!
In the meantime, what is Rubboli doing? Does he return money to angry investors? Obviously not!
Rubboli completely refused to communicate, leaving everyone without answers for weeks. Until he decides to try to dupe communities and investors by publishing an official statement, on the Telegram channel of tens of thousands of users, where he slanders former team members with a flood of lies so blatant as to be practically self-contradicting.
- He says over 30 people are working on the Mintlayer project, when they were around 20 before all the defections.
- He says – literally – that all the money raised is used directly in the Mintlayer project, when there are now inquiries and budgets to prove the opposite.
- He says that the money is kept safe with a third party, when at that time half of the funds raised were still perfectly traceable on the blockchain to the address they were sent to (and of course investors could check it with a simple click).
- He says only 2 team members were kicked out because they were dangerous for the project. He says that people like Andreas Kohl or Alberto De Luigi are neither important nor the main interlocutors with investors. Which, when told to investors, is an absurd mockery, given that they know very well who their interlocutors are. But some naive users in the Telegram chat could buy it.
- He states that Alberto De Luigi, who is a blogger by profession (if only! What a happy life I would have!), is nothing more than a copywriter who participated in the project only a few months of 2021, certainly not a crucial figure. And in his opinion I was acting against the interests of the project, so he was forced to kick me out
- The only other team member ousted in hi Enrico’s recounting is Andreas Kohl – due to his alleged attempts to “extort” money from RBB. This fable of “extortion” apparently is a recurring theme in Rubboli’s mind, given that, at the meeting I held with him and Mazzanti mentioned above, when I said I was concerned about the management of resources, saying that I put my face for this project and that I feel it is my responsibility (and nothing more than that!), Rubboli then – all agitated – began immediately to blather disconnected and meaningless phrases: “I must not be put – I tell you right away – under blackmail, I do not let myself be put under blackmail … no because – I mean – we can’t find an agreement because otherwise it is… No!”, with Mazzanti and us explaining him that there is no blackmail. Sorry for the disjointed sentences, but I report here exactly how it was said.
I would like to point out that Rubboli’s false and defamatory statements reported here are public (here the document as it has been published on telegram) and posted in chat with dozens of thousand of people.
Rubboli also tried to have the other people on the team to sign those statements, but in the end he published them with the generic signature “Mintlayer team”, since apparently no one has agreed to put their name on them. Embarassing.
Chris Connelly, the community manager who until then said he had only taken a pause, disgusted by the request of his “employer” to sign an avalanche of lies, formally leaves the project. But Rubboli’s kapos write in the official public chat that Chris is on vacation, surfing. A real circus of clowns. Luckily, there are those who realized that something was wrong, rumors spreaded around, and in some Italian chats on Telegram they began to call Rubboli “Penguin”, the villain of Batman. And a ton of memes flocked to the internet.
8. MOCKING INVESTORS WITH CHARLIE SHREM, AN UNEXPECTED TRAGIC OUTCOME
Despite Rubboli’s ridiculous media attempts, protests mount on social networks and Telegram chats. Rubboli then convenes all the investors in a single meeting, thinking he can save the situation with a series of other lies. In the online meeting (here recorded, for your entertainment) he tells investors a lot of lies. Besides reiterating all the false claims already reported, here in particular he makes the following promises:
- He promises that he will provide the details of all expenses to investors, within the following week (promised by his company partner in the Emirates, Luca Viviani at the minute 13:50) so as to show that all the money raised is spent on the project
- He promises that a certified third party will audit the company within 3 months to show that all accounts are in place and will update this soon (at the minute 11:56)
- He promises to update investors within two weeks (at the minute 59) with a plan for RBB to soon configure a multi-signature to manage the funds received
All promises not kept and made just to try to buy time, once again. It was not enough for him to trifle with the team and lawyers, now also all the investors in a plenary session. Then just a little over 1 month later, in completely denial of all these promises, his new lawyer Annetta wrote to the investors (see here) that since they are token buyers, not shareholders, they have no right to see anything more than the budget already published for 2021 (where, among other things, the misuse of the project funds is evident!).
What is even more disturbing is that in this call with investors on June 3, a well-known character participates, Charlie Shrem, co-founder of the Bitcoin foundation. Andreas Kohl had known Charlie Shrem for some time and had convinced him to invest in Mintlayer through his Druid fund. Charlie was one of the very first investors to be informed of Rubboli’s actions and immediately told us he wanted to help us. Andreas and I had talked to him in person, asking him to help us persuade Enrico and get him to reason.
However, Charlie and Enrico physically met on May 22 in Cannes. Incredibly, after that meeting, Charlie starts defending Rubboli to the hilt and even takes a picture embraced by Rubboli (left) and Viviani (right). Rubboli then employs him as moderator of the June 3 meeting. As you can hear in the recording, it is Charlie who opens the meeting and will support Enrico throughout the entire phone call.
Here, Charlie claims that he spoke to L.R and that the corruption episode was completely misrepresented because it was “out of context” (stated at the minute 9.40 of the phone call). Charlie states that this is not bribery at all, as L.R. himself reported to him in a private conversation: “I talked to L. … there is no attempt at bribery. It was perceived as completely out of context. L. is – like me and our fund – eager to continue supporting Mintlayer”.
L.R., resentful of Rubboli to the point of labeling him several times as “fat cunt” even in telegram chats with 200 investors and relative crew (see screenshot), had already said he was willing to testify before the Italian and San Marino authorities in relation to the corruption episode for the complaint made to the italian Financial Police and the Criminal Chancellery of San Marino. After hearing the recording of the meeting with Charlie, I contacted Liam and reported what Charlie said. Liam listens to the tape and denies everything Shrem reported (see screenshot).
Personally, I have always seen Shrem as a hero who ended up in jail without blame (for The Silk Road case), but after that staging with Rubboli I was so disappointed that I would say he may deserve the report sent to the SEC to report both Mintlayer and Charlie himself, given that Druid fund operates in U.S and is actively supporting Rubboli in spreading those lies, with a very specific plan to dump their MLT tokens on unsuspecting retail buyers, hoping that they will still have value for long enough to sell them to suckers if they are able to cover the truth.
9. THE LIES ABOUT HIS PAST AT TETHER/BITFINEX
Don’t think you have seen it all; the best is yet to come! Until this moment we imagined that Rubboli’s “breaking bad” was dictated by the so-called “opportunity that makes the thief”, given by the massive pouring of money into Mintlayer. Instead, Rubboli apparently had been “at work” a long time before!
First of all, Rubboli has always presented himself to the team as the creator, or co-creator, of Tether on ERC-20 and has always claimed to have developed the Bitfinex matching engine. A remarkable resume for a person in the world of crypto!
I, who knew Giancarlo Devasini of Bitfinex, having met him several times both for professional occasions and for pure conviviality, had organized a couple of meetings between Mintlayer and the Bitfinex team. Here, Giancarlo has always recognized Rubboli as a former employee, so I have never questioned Rubboli’s background in this regard. It never occurred to me to ask for confirmation of what activities he had done. However, Paolo Ardoino, the CTO of Bitfinex and therefore Rubboli’s direct superior at that time, never attended any meeting with us and – this was something I already found suspicious – never replied in group chats where Rubboli was present.
When Andreas asks publicly on twitter what Rubboli did, Ardoino denies everything: the Bitfinex matching engine was made by Paolo, not Rubboli. Tether’s contract has been made by Will. Rubboli only participated, along with various others, in the Bitfinex codebase. The “father of Tether” who? Ardoino also points out that, after his tweet, Rubboli immediately blocked him on Twitter! See the following Tweets from Ardoino here and here.
Personally, I find it truly amazing how Rubboli has not yet buried himself in shame, but is still there trying to raise more money for Mintlayer! That’s right, apparently, among Rubboli’s plans, there is also that of collecting more money, since he has recently tried to bring on board the Mintlayer project (at least, what is left of it) Ian Staley, a professional of fundraising. Luckily, after a week of negotiations, Ian himself realizes that there is something “shady” (as he reports) in Rubboli’s behavior and he contacted us for clarification. Luckily he saved his reputation and is now formally Advisor for Sequentia.
But Rubboli’s past still had great surprises in store for us!
By doing extensive searches with engines other than Google, we discovered facts that were completely unknown to us at the time. In fact, we discovered that in 2019 (when I was already working on the design of Mintlayer) Rubboli was employed in a project for an exchange called BQT (whose token is BQTX). We first got in touch with an Italian project advisor and financier, Luca Cotta, then directly with BQT CEO Eddie Mandel to find out more.
What they report is amazing: according to Luca Cotta, Luca Viviani convinced the BQT team to hire Enrico Rubboli as CTO. Enrico introduced himself as co-inventor of Tether ERC20, as also appears in the presentation pages of BQT still online (see this link). Enrico, according to the BQT guys, received a salary for 8 months without doing anything. Not only that, hired an entire “development” team paid by BQT, who – reports Eddie Mandel – it’s been discovered wasn’t working on BQT, but on another personal project of Rubboli: “We discovered that his team was using the company’s funds, servers and other resources to build and test their project behind the scenes. In the end, we had to hire another team just to recover the system and fix the problems” – reports Eddie Mandel directly in the chat with all Mintlayer investors interested in getting a refund (see screenshot).
Luca Cotta then, tells me that when they caught Rubboli and expelled him, Luca Viviani apologized very much to everyone, stating that he did not expect it. Personally, I see the exact same script that Viviani began to recite with me, while we were talking about the diverted money for Rubboli’s house, telling me in a disconsolate tone “I trusted him too much …. now what do you want me to do, I have no power in HTLC because the money comes from RBB, even if I wanted to I could not oppose”.
BQT and Mintlayer aren’t the only projects Rubboli has damaged. Enrico was also involved in Stablecomp, until the rest of the team, faced with the total lack of progress, changed developers. I wish them success in catching up on the roadmap as soon as possible.
In short: Viviani and Rubboli, the cat and the fox. And think that Viviani has actually always been known as “the cat”, since he has always had the profile image of a cat on social media. Coincidences? I don’t think so! 🙂 Rubboli, on the other hand, has posted for years on socials, in particular Facebook groups such as Bitcoin Italia and Crypto Italia, with the image of… not a fox, but of a pigeon. And not with his own name, but with the pseudonym “Gino Cerutti”. So maybe, we shouldn’t call them the cat and the fox, but the cat and the pigeon.
Knowing that investors are taking legal action and that a criminal complaint has been filed against him in early July 2022, Rubboli counter-attack launching a defamation campaign against me and Andreas Kohl, with also the aim of currying favor with the Court and Institutions of San Marino. His lawyer Annetta, in fact, has one Enrico Lazzari in tow (who – I already specify – is not a registered journalist) who begins to throw a flurry of articles on the main newspaper of San Marino Giornalse.sm (I count 9 articles from July to September), clearly in the pay of RBB, in which he praises Rubboli as a great entrepreneur. Even I, who have very little sense of modesty, am embarrassed to read them, imagining myself in the role of Rubboli. I envy those perhaps slightly less gifted who were able to fully go through these beautiful summer readings without feeling the same discomfort!
Our champion Lazzari also praises the legal framework of San Marino, because a box ticked here and there can certainly do nothing but good. In addition, he describes Mintlayer as a “savior” of the San Marino public coffers and … drum roll, as an ecological solution to combat pollution. In short, you can see, Rubboli is both the savior of the state coffers, and the Greta Thunberg of the San Marino microstate.
Now, dear Lazzari, I understand that Rubboli is reviewing the technical part of the articles and that he perhaps, has not even read half of the Mintlayer whitepaper, but when I wrote about “pollution” in the Mintlayer documentation I meant “UTXO dust”. It’s another thing, do you understand? Okay… At least I had my pleasant summer readings. Phrases such as “what is emerging around digital assets is a liberal-democratic system” (please let Giacomo Zucco read it!) are truly a cure-all for the finest palates who love real sophisticated humor. Great Lazzari, thank you!
The most important thing about those articles, however, is – obviously – that they report a lot of lies about “former collaborators”, citing parts of an (alleged) criminal complaint that Enrico would have made against me and Andreas Kohl. Alas, I have not yet had the honor, after a couple of months, of receiving any notification from the prosecutor on the matter. But from rumors it seems that the complaint really exists, I’m just curious to see what happens to it. However, first let’s see the articles with their high-sounding headlines.
11.1. THEFT OF KNOW-HOW
In the first article (here the link) we read: “Two former collaborators reported to criminal authorities: they would have tried to rob business, idea and know-how from an innovative San Marino company”.
The exact same article is re-proposed 23 days later again in Giornale.sm, with the title “San Marino. Enrico Rubboli reports to criminal authorities A.D.L. (Italian blogger) and A.K. because they would have tried to rob the business, idea and know-how of San Marino RBB Srl ”. The text specifies that RBB “since the very beginning focused on the realization of an idea of its founder, a true expert in computer science, programming languages and protocols – created to concretize an idea by Rubboli himself: the innovative, in some ways revolutionary project Mintlayer, which aims to simplify, lighten and make electronic money transactions cheaper, environmentally sustainable (lighter computing require less energy consumption) and secure through the ‘tokenization’ of assets.” In short, on the one hand we have the great computer science knowledge of Rubboli, while I am depicted as the two-bit “blogger” who tries to steal his ideas and know-how.
It can be ascertained that the story of the “theft of know-how” is completely irrelevant to the real problem of Rubboli, that is spending Mintlayer money for himself. But even if we want to analyze it, it can be easily demonstrated that it’s only made of lies in evident bad faith, therefore full-blown defamation. It can be demonstrated in a very straightforward way who invented, wrote, discussed and presented Mintlayer (chats, logs, documents, conversations, voice messages, it’s all saved and archived). Not only that, Rubboli himself has always said for years that the author / inventor is me, from the chats where he says that the copyright is mine, to communications to third parties. I even remember some occasions (for example the phone call with the guys from Eidoo) in which Rubboli goes saying “Alberto invented it, so if it doesn’t work it’s his fault!!”.
But let’s assume – absurdly – that there was no document to prove this. What Rubboli achieved in his life is a diploma in compulsory secondary education, and is almost 50 years old, he never graduated from college/university (yes, I also discovered it very late, unfortunately). When talking to Italians, he has always intentionally used the English “engineer” playing on the fact that “software engineer” is used in English-speaking countries even for those who are not qualified, while for us any use of the title “engineer” requires at least a bachelor degree. The greatest achievement in his career was to participate, together with others, in the writing of the code of a Bitcoin exchange platform (Bitfinex) in a timeframe of slightly more than a year. So, this illustrious expert would have had, at the dawn of 45 years, the stroke of genius to develop great ideas and know-how that I, humble “blogger”, would have tried to “snatch”from him.
Maybe, our super-tech guy from the secondary school of Cesena forgot to also specify that I, in life, besides occasionally writing on my personal blog, have never been a blogger by profession, but always a technology consultant, working in companies such as Brainforce (later Cegeka), BTO Research, and Accenture. I developed platforms for the largest Italian multinationals such as Luxottica, and in 2021 I worked, among other things, on one of the biggest italian bank mergers ever (Intesa Sanpaolo and UBI), managing the user migration and transactions from the IT standpoint. And not that I have ever wanted to show-off, but since the situation perhaps requires it at this point, I also specify that I have two university degrees, one with honors, and I completed a certificate (Computer Science 50) from Harvard – while I was already working – which requires, among other things, the development of a web trading platform from scratch. I have held and still continue to give lectures on blockchain everywhere in Italy, even in universities. I have active academic publications in moral / political philosophy that you can also buy on Amazon here or here. Since 2015, I have studied blockchain protocols and written articles about it, like this review of the Lightning Network whitepaper (after having personally met Poon e Drija in Milan) back when the rest of the world mostly had not even heard about Lightning yet. Finally, in my academic curriculum, I have achieved many subjects that are useful for the definition of a Consensus mechanism on blockchain (such as Mintlayer / Sequentia), such as: logic, game theory, advanced statistics, economic statistics, theories of regulation, history of monetary systems, advanced mathematics, finance and financial intermediaries, quantitative methods, political theory, and much more.
And despite all of this, I got fooled by a fat guy with a secondary school diploma. You see that studying is of no use? Children, do not follow my example.
“true expert in computer science, programming languages and protocols”. Sometimes I still think about it. A genius. I must steal that. I’ll print and hang in the office. Or rather, I use it as overlay for my next public online appearance. I’ll also add “and Bitcoin scientist”.
Forgive me the digression.
Then I ask myself: if Rubboli is really such a great inventor, then he should explain us what I was doing in the meeting for the approval of the Mintlayer project by the authorities, I, who have never formally had any working relationship with RBB. Moreover, after the criticism expressed by the Politecnico of the whitepaper, the document submitted by RBB (and written by me) that ultimately led to the approval of the project is, essentially, a copy-paste of my articles (see here the document presented by RBB and here an article published on my blog already one year ahead, I let you play the game “find the differences”).
Finally, Andreas Kohl (who is today with me co-founder of Sequentia) raised 18 million for Mintlayer thanks solely to his knowledge and hard work. All investors who are requesting a refund from RBB can confirm this. It is not clear what “knowledge” he would have stolen from Rubboli, given that Andreas is the one who acutally brought every single investor.
But still, Rubboli keeps trying to put us in a bad light with investors (even though at this point really no one believes him anymore). His last attempt, dated October 7th, is a message of 9 pages sent to investors via email where he reveals he transferred his shares of HTLC to Luca Viviani, he repeats that all funds are safe, and then speaks badly about me and Andreas. In particular, regarding me, he repeats once again that he and Luca invented Mintlayer, I was just an employee and they sent me a formal warning before firing me. To prove that, Rubboli published a warning notice that he sent me, plus the following message, apparently dated March 7th, where he tells Luca that I haven’t submitted any answer to their warning, so they need to fire me.
The are two possibilities: either they simply fabricated this message to create this narrative just before sending it to investors, or they already fabricated it on March 7th, which would be even more disturbing. Where to even start?
First of all, they never wrote or talked to each other in English! It’s obvious they prepared this email for a broader audience. Second, I (unfortunately) know very well Enrico and Luca’s standards at work, and I can tell in 2 years I have never seen such a formal email written by either of them, especially internally.
But if you still have any doubt regarding its authenticity, here is proof that they are blatantly lying. See in this pdf (direct extract from my email account) what I actually received from them as a warning notice and my prompt answer (of 6 pages!) to their accusation. I sent my reply to them on March 2nd. So Rubboli’s claim that “we didn’t receive any reply to the message” is totally false. And what a reply! If you have time to waste or for any disturbing reason you fell in love with this spy story, I feel you should read it!
11.2. SNATCH THE BUSINESS
Rubboli, through Lazzari, writes on Giornale.sm about me and Andreas: “taking advantage of the knowledge acquired during their collaboration with the company in San Marino and making use of it unfairly, they gave life to a project similar to the one conceived by Rubboli”. In short, the Rubbolian version is not that Rubboli took the money brought by Andreas’s investors to spend it on luxury goods, but that Andreas have stolen the contacts of Rubboli’s wealthy investors to promote Sequentia! What a plot-twist!
I must also remark that we haven’t given life to Sequentia by taking advantage of any previous acquaintance. In fact, for Sequentia fundraising we are not relying on the old investors, but on new ones. The old Mintlayer investors are only a debt to us, as we have promised them a “refund” in SEQ (Sequentia) tokens as donation, as we are sorry for having convinced them to throw their money into Mintlayer. The offer made is very clear and Enrico knows it well, since we formulated it transparently in a semi-public chat that he himself reads: we will reimburse in SEQ tokens the investors who have requested a reimbursement from Rubboli, whether they actually recover their money from RBB through legal channels. It will only be at that point that these investors, only if they are willing to do so, may reinvest any money recovered from RBB in Sequentia. But we certainly do not count on it.
11.3. UNDERMINE THEIR TRUST IN RBB
And again, Enrico writes that Andreas Kohl and I would have exploited “an extension of the times defined in the original roadmap… to undermine trust in San Marino society”. Another very false statement. Obviously it is the diversion of funds from the project perpetrated by Rubboli, the lack of transparency, the whole Rubbolian idea of “decentralization”, the episode with L.R and any other wickedness reported here, that are the main reason why the investors they turned against the RBB company.
In any case, it is also true that – even if it has never been a central topic in discussions with investors – it is certain that Rubboli’s behavior has also strongly impacted the Roadmap. Enrico chose to develop Mintlayer on the Substrate codebase, starting development in May 2021 only to realize later that Substrate cannot function as a Bitcoin sidechain for fundamental architectural reasons. The work from May 2021 to December 2021 and all the resources spent on developing the protocol were completely wasted due to this mistake. The generation date of the tokens has been postponed twice and currently postponed to a generic 2023, two years after what was expected by the first investors.
It then fell to me to insistently ask the developers for a complete report of the technical problem, at the cost of having to beat them up for good. And it fell to me to engage investors to discuss what happened, explaining Rubboli’s technical error and trying to justify it with the lack of adequate Substrate documentation (which, if superficially analyzed, is actually misleading).
Finally, the disaster created by Rubboli’s choice to kick out half the team in 2022 can certainly not have speeded up the development. But this matter is marginal, given that in any case Rubboli is apparently NOT developing (or does not intend to develop, or is unable to develop) the Mintlayer described in the documentation, or in any case a Bitcoin sidechain. I invite my more technical readers to prove otherwise by looking at the code on github.
Enrico then says that Andreas sent a request for two million euros advanced to “the top of the RBB” and that would be extortion. These accusations are based on a telegram message sent by Andreas to Luca where he asks for around 2 million dollars, a house, a nice car, a pretty girlfriend and possibly a restaurant “like yours” (referring to Luca’s restaurant in Minsk). It being part of a long-deleted “secret chat” on Telegram, we are not able to publish the exact message (it’s lost), however Andreas attests that the one published by Enrico is editorialized, even if mostly correct; for example, references to Enrico’s purchases have been removed, and only part of the allegation of Luca’s spendings on the restaurant remain.
In those days Andreas was still part of Mintlayer and trying to collect more evidence of Enrico’s misbehaviour from the inside. This is actually how he could record the video call with L.R. and also how he could file and record many more documents that it is not worth the time to disclose here. In fact, I remember that around that date Andreas told me that he was trying to make Luca or Enrico admit they were doing a scam, appropriating the Mintlayer funds. It’s in this context that he decided to send the message to Luca Viviani (read the full text as edited and published by Enrico at page 7-8 here):
“Hey Luca […] I’ve decided I’d like to be bought out of Mintlayer. Thing is, I’ve started to realise how in the big picture it’s really all just a scam […] But if I left without a good payout, let’s be honest, I’d never come out of that depression, my personal life would stay empty, and I would end up being a problem for you sooner or later […] So that’s why I’d like to ask you to help me get in a position where I have things to lose; A big house, nice car, pretty girlfriend […] and hey maybe I’ll also open a restaurant like you”. Luca just replied to Andreas to get some rest, so he decided that the trap wasn’t effective and stopped immediately with this strategy.
Regarding the accusation of extortion, Andreas commented with the following: “I was trying to lay a trap for them to agree to ‘cut me in’ into the scam, and have even more incriminating evidence on them. At the end of the day whether you believe me that that is what I was doing or not, the fact remains that this message is self-evidently not an attempt to extort money from a legitimate operation, and yet this is what they’re resorting to, their biggest ‘weapon’ against me, lmao. For those truly interested in my moral character, messages I was sending to pre-seed/seed investors and other internal contributors during the days that led to this message can serve to pretty strongly vouch for my intentions; either I was setting a trap for Luca, or one for myself, since I had already well begun actively letting the cat out of the bag regarding the behaviours we uncovered”.
Finally, Lazzari’s article specifies that I opened the “mintlayerfoundation.org” domain with the aim of phishing Mintlayer users / investors, as reported by the Czech court, which reassigned the domain to Rubboli: “the two [Andreas and Alberto] did an offer to the same investors and registered the Mintlayer domain in Liechtenstein, albeit with a different extension from the original .org registered by RBB … taking advantage of the confusion with the trademark, it results in a fraudulent scheme that falls into what is called phishing, aimed at obtaining sensitive or confidential information regarding consumers / investors, or even obtaining the payment of fraudulent invoices”.
I have not registered any Mintlayer domain, entity or trademark in Liechtenstein, I specify that I only opened (from my home) a “@ mintlayerfoundation.org” gmail account on May 6, before the team offered Enrico to participate in the foundation and with the intention of welcoming Rubboli himself to the foundation. In fact, you can see that on date 13 may I wrote to the Liechtenstein lawyers (see screenshot of my email) specifying that we wanted to maintain a position open for Rubboli in the foundation, still open to a compromise in the hope that Rubboli would repent, at some point. However, after Rubboli’s article and the attempt to buy L.R. in order to “destroy” those who loved the project, we realized that there was no hope anymore. It is only on June 3 that I wrote again to Liechtenstein lawyers, saying that unfortunately we had to open the entity under another name (and without Enrico) since Rubboli’s behavior passed any tolerable threshold (see my next email to lawyers here). We therefore registered “Sequentia” and opened the relative company in Liechtenstein, not a “Mintlayer” foundation.
The new name “Sequentia” was agreed internally by the team only in July 2022. In June, lawyers and investors asked us for an intermediation (also for linguistic reasons) and therefore we found ourselves having to collect what was requested by the lawyers (e.g. passport of each investor) so that they could represent them in legal actions. Since I had already paid for the @mintlayerfoundation.org account, a very hefty 12 euros, and we had no other accounts available other than our personal gmail / outlook, I created the firstname.lastname@example.org mailbox with which we collected the documents of over 35 investors. That e-mail address wasn’t used for any other purpose than for the intermediation between investors and lawyers, as always clear to all investors, and we have always signed with our own name or with the words “Former Mintlayer team”.
When in july Google informed me that a dispute had been raised because of the “Mintlayer” trademark and that RBB was claiming the ownership of the “mintlayerfoundation.org” mailbox, we didn’t really care, since we already knew since more than 1 month that we would have no longer used that mailbox, due to the fact that Rubboli evidently did not want to participate in the foundation. We therefore created Sequentia with its domain and let the domain with the mintlayer name be reassigned to RBB by the Czech court.
I’ll tell you even more, well before these articles by Lazzari were published with this completely invented story of phishing, we had already provided the criminal chancellery of San Marino with a folder with all the correspondence managed by email@example.com, so as to allow the authorities to more easily identify all the investors and facilitate their investigations.
If it is Google / the Czech court that mentioned phishing, as Lazzari seems to report in his article, it could be that this was an automatic message or, given the activity of the collection of documents, one of their operators could have mistaken it for a phishing activity. There is no doubt, however, that Rubboli, in denouncing it as such, is in total bad faith and, therefore, once again, is making libel in the press, with the aggravating circumstance of wanting to do it to divert regulators and judicial authorities from his misdeeds.
I sent a report to San Marino Innovation on 5 July 2022, by certified mail. My first report by standard email was dated June 2nd, so SMI was already aware of the events. However, I had never received an answer, other than the request to indicate which other authorities I had informed, or the request to submit by certified mail, as I later did.
On July 17 and 19 the first two defamatory articles by Rubboli come out and … guess what? San Marino Innovation finally answers mee (here screenshot), saying that the issues I raised could be relevant for the criminal authorities, but not within their competence. Did they take the bait of Lazzari’s articles?
To demonstrate that it is not a matter of their competence, they cite various laws. The problem is that, if we take a look at it, we read right there (for example in Decreto Delegato 23 maggio 2019 n.86, art 4) that San Marino Innovation, in regard to RBB should exercise: “supervisory, regulatory and sanctioning functions towards all interested parties […] 2. The Institute has the duty to, for example and not exhaustively: a) issue regulations regarding the industry and directives [… ] b) […] revoke the acknowledgements, certifications and authorizations issued, in case of non-compliance; c) monitor and supervise the issuers […] and keep under constant control all the practices, operations and activities carried out by the companies […] g) monitor the functioning and application of the laws that directly or indirectly influence the activities of the subjects issuer […].”
Recently, Rubboli asked investors to provide an ERC20 address to generate the MLT tokens on the Ethereum blockchain and carry out the public sale on the Ethereum network. The generated tokens will therefore not be on a new blockchain or Bitcoin sidechain. I specify that even if RBB performed the TGE on Mintlayer (currently impossible, since there is not even a testnet), we must consider that what you can see on github (here) has nothing to do with a Bitcoin sidechain or what is described in the docs.mintlayer.org documentation, as the more technical of my readers will easily see.
It seems that Rubboli targets january 2023 for the token generation event, but at the moment the authorization for the Initial Token Offering is expired and San Marino Innovation has not renewed it. There was a single authorized token issuer and it was RBB, but currently it’s been removed by the register (see here). Hopefully, they won’t renew it. But will that effectively stop Rubboli from doing a token generation event?
And finally, let’s go back to the opening of this article. What was I doing in Dubai in August 2022? Well, as soon as we collected important figures for Mintlayer through RBB, we started to worry about structuring the project also from a corporate point of view. We knew that RBB, at that time a vehicle for fundraising, could not be the only company managing the project, for various reasons – including fiscal ones – and not least the fact that it was administered only by Rubboli. Furthermore, we had not yet obtained the authorization for the initial token offering from SMI, so we could not even know if RBB could legally issue MLT tokens.
After various considerations and advice from different parts, we decided to open in Dubai. Rubboli and Viviani then leave for the Emirates to organize the opening of the company and, in June 2021, Rubboli tells me that in order to avoid being accused of tax inversion (Rubboli and I were both resident in Italy), before I could enter the company we had to wait for him to obtain residency in San Marino, which I believe he obtained in September 2021. Maybe he was just bullshitting me, but at the time I trusted blindly without seeing any need to discuss it further, as I was in no hurry to get into the company, which I saw as a mere formality.
In November 2021 we had a team meeting in Dubai and on that occasion I made my first entry into the country. On the advice of Rubboli, I signed a “contract of convenience” with HTLC with a form of minimum wage in dirhams (which in any case I did not receive and I had no interest in receiving) to quickly obtain residence (the Emirates ID), which I managed to physically collect only shortly before Christmas when I returned to Dubai.
In the meantime, at some point in October 2021, Rubboli told me that the money is finally unlocked (just unlocked? he had already spent over 1 million for himself that summer!). At that point, I was receiving $5,000 gross a month in cryptocurrencies as a monthly remuneration for my contribution to the project. Of course, the resources came from fundraising.
I note that this gross salary of 60,000 per year is a lower cost than what my position would entail in any other company in Italy, such as Accenture, and very far from the average salary of a manager in countries such as the US or the UAE. The idea was to register those revenues as soon as I got my residence, bank and role in HTLC. However, in December, the bank I turned to unfortunately refused to open my account and I therefore had to return in February 2021 to finalize the account opening. For this, I needed a minimum transfer from HTLC and Luca Viviani in February made this bank transfer of 5000 dirhams (about 1300 euros) to me.
Meanwhile, I met Rubboli and Viviani in Dubai in person. The situation was heating up, but I had not (physically) seen Rubboli since December and I was still convinced that we could have solved everything once seeing each other person. Also, it would have been easier to organize the multisignature accounts while sitting together.
However, right there in Dubai, Rubboli tells to my face, with a satisfied super-villain grin, that now everything is in his control: “it’s just the way it turned out” – he says. After all, the fundraise was done through RBB, so the multisignature doesn’t work because the responsibility for the money resides with himself only, he says. He also adds that I have nothing to do with the company in Dubai, HTLC, and it was never his intention that I should be a member, that the token company reserve will remain exclusively in RBB, that all the decisions for the project will be made by him, and that he will not be accountable to anyone for the money spent. That same evening, he first removed me from the admin role on Mailchimp where I had access to all customer emails.
It is from that day that the spiel with the lawyers begins. My first strategy was to file a civil suit to get a share of RBB (with the claim of having always acted as a “hidden shareholder”) and then fix the problems “from within”. After all, I had overwhelming evidence (and dozens of witnesses) that the project was basically all my own work, not only in the ideas, but even the practical execution.
Not only had Rubboli collected all the money (or rather, pocketed the money raised by Andreas) by presenting a project that is born from my ideas, with my documentation and permits for the public offering obtained by the authorities thanks to my contribution. But also team, communities and initiatives were mainly managed by me, most of the international partnerships discussed, negotiated and approved by me or Andreas, platforms and apps designed by me, videos, articles, communications produced by me. And even before I left my previous job, endless hours at work in years, organizing myself with polyphasic sleep to be able to do everything at night (you will excuse me – dear readers – if I slowed down with the articles on the blog).
I really did a bit of everything, even KYC/compliance: I remember that Sunday night I spent 4 hours manually attending 600 users who had a problem on Passbase. Or that day in December when, to release some features (or rather, to tell the whole story, to solve a problem introduced by Rubboli, but I won’t go into details here) I reached a record of 22 hours worked in a row (I swear that I don’t take drugs, all adrenaline produced naturally!). Twenty-two hours excluding breaks for my needs – but not meals, an amiable Indian girl ordered those and brought them to me, leaving them next to my PC.
But when, in May, the situation with Rubboli degenerated, I understood that, even by winning a civil suit, I would get shares in a company that is to be thrown away, with claims from investors and all sorts of troubles. So I gave up on that path. Come the end of May, Andreas and I decided that if we wanted to continue the project, the only way was to open a new entity.
From then on I incurred continuous, burdensome expenses connected to the new company (Sequentia). All of this in a full-on bear market and without receiving any salary since February. As you can imagine, A single law firm in Liechtenstein can pull out multiple invoices for several thousands dollars in rapid succession with truly enviable ease. This is why I started August 2022 in truly dire financial straits. I switched from Esselunga (quite a high-end food market in Italy) to the LD market, and then I finally discovered, thank goodness, the COOP grilled mackerel in extra virgin olive oil for 1.70 euros. They are good! It is enough to make up for the protein intake that, in other forms of meat or fish, would have been prohibitive to me.
Unfortunately, I didn’t find the time to do other jobs, having a near infinite amount of things to take care of for Sequentia. Among other things, I started – and not without a bit of shame – to collect various outstanding debts and favours, like that course I held the previous year that I thought I could do pro-bono (for me it is a pleasure to participate in educational initiatives, and the organizers were very nice), but I was forced to accept compensation for, when the need called…
In June, I found out, through an automated account statement email from my Dubai bank, that Viviani had paid me 5,000 dirhams a month from March to May, for a total of 15,000. I believe – I cannot know for sure though – that it was a mistake (e.g. he had automated the payments following the first of February), or that Rubboli directed him to continue to pay me. In fact, from March to May my Italian lawyers were still in “negotiations” and Rubboli was pretending that I had little or nothing to do with Mintlayer, and that I had only been hired as an employee in HTLC on November 7, 2021. Perhaps, continuing to pay me from HTLC as a wage earner was a kind of twisted strategy to corroborate this thesis. An outright clown show, really.
Would you imagine Rubboli’s lawyer trying to convince the Court that I left my position at Accenture in October to work as an employee for 1,300 euros a month in Dubai? Money that – by the way – I started to receive only in March. And with a son who started primary school in September this year in Italy. Sometimes, when you think you are not particularly brilliant, remember that the average of humanity is also made up of these subjects.
Anyway, I found myself with 15,000 dirhams (about 4,000 euros) at the Emirate bank, of which I had no debit card or active internet banking. In fact, during the days I stayed in February I was able to open the account, but I didn’t have time to receive the card. So I had to go back to Dubai on a low-cost flight in August, to get my last money back.
So I leave Italy, and it just so happens that it is at exactly the same time that Luca Viviani also went to Dubai, with the intention of committing one last, terrible felony against me.
In fact, the day before my scheduled return to Italy, after online check-in was already done (money thrown away, damn!), while I’m in the hostel, the Emirate officer calls me on the phone. He tells me that I cannot leave, as a request has been forwarded by my “employer” to put me on the blacklist. From what I understand, this is a procedure that is generally activated for outlaws, usually people who stop working and cannot be found by the company and/or refuse to sign the termination of the contract.
If I didn’t answer that call and then went to the airport, they would have probably arrested me. Then I’d have had a great time trying proving that I am not working for HTLC because Rubboli is misappropriating the project’s money, and that there are ongoing legal proceedings abroad! Maybe I would have been imprisoned in Dubai for years.
And the fact that I was in Dubai right on that day, and with my UAE SIM card inserted, was also a stroke of luck! Imagine if, months or years later, I went – perhaps with my child – on vacation to Dubai. They could have pulled me away in front of my son and kept me for God knows how long.
In the hostel I made some nice acquaintances. Including an Egyptian girl, who asked me what I was doing there and I told my whole story. She was fascinated by it. When I told her about this latest inconvenience and that I had to run to the public offices to try to resolve the situation, she tells me with conviction: “I’m coming with you to Ajman, it’ll be of help!”. Surprised, I accept. After 2 hours of travel with metro and taxi we arrive at the offices.
You should know that the mask was still mandatory in public offices in Dubai. I borrowed one, but I wore it under the chin – unfortunately my allergy to these ideological things reaches such high levels that it verges on mental retardation:I would rather spend 20 years in jail. I didn’t get off on the right foot, really no. I sit through a sermon like “we host you here in our country and you do not work…” and then I try to speak. The officer silences me and tells me to pull up the mask. He is also pissed off that I do not have the mask on.
Not starting well, at all. It starts very badly. And the guy doesn’t let me talk. And if he forwards the paper in front of me to the ministry, it’s over.
Then, the magic happens.
My Egyptian friend lowers her mask and starts talking to him in Arabic. Beautiful, she bewitches him. He softens. I haven’t the faintest idea what the hell they’re talking about. But there is love in the air, that is international, you can see that. He even hands her his business card.
Then he goes back to English and starts asking me questions. Gradually, I tell him the whole story (and without the mask!). He is shocked that Viviani hadn’t even asked me to terminate the contract, but directly submitted the blacklisting form. He tells me to call Viviani on the phone, he answers. And the officer takes the phone from my hand and starts talking to him directly. He verbally bitch-slaps the hell out of him.
The next day, the officer sends all the documents as soon as they are ready to my Egyptian friend on whatsapp, she turns them over to me. I can finally go! I book the flight. I have only one day left in Dubai. We decide to both take it as a vacation and she comes with me to the beach. I still hear from her from time to time.
To sum up, I was robbed of my project, of years of work, of a salary. I found myself penniless and even in debt, vilified on social media and in the press by those who have 18 million to spend at their leisure and to spread – even today – lies, pleased with the inaction of local authorities. A super-villain who tries to buy himself the favor of other possible villains to the tune of millions to fight the honest people and cover up the truth. And I also ended up with the risk of being thrown in an Emirati prison.
But in the end, love always triumphs! What a fantastic story life is!
I don’t want a world where this project isn’t brought to light. That’s why I decided to keep fighting and really put everything into it, at the cost of surviving on COOP mackerels. I know, it’s a super-cringe slogan, but who knows they might send me a free sample of sardines too.
Jokes aside, there are many people who have lost their jobs and have put their trust in me and Andreas, for whom we now feel the responsibility. We are running like crazy. We decided to re-brand and the project is now called Sequentia: sequentia.io. We incorporated a public limited company on the 24th August in Liechtenstein, Sequentia AG, conferring 3 Bitcoin as a contribution in kind for its authorized capital. We are organizing the opening of a physical branch in El Salvador. The choice of these two countries follows a specific vision described in this article on our website.
We have made sure that what happened with Mintlayer, with investor money spent on houses, cars, luxury, can never happen again. Just to clarify how a crypto project is structured correctly, take a look at the legal framework of Sequentia in its lightpaper (slide 19→22).
If you want to give some support or just have a chat about this whole story, you are welcome in the telegram chat (just opened, you’ll be among the first!).
Sequentia has just opened a round of financing through a “bear-market” SAFT, a unique innovation in this market, designed to give contributors the option to retain some exposure to BTC.
We are opening the Sequentia Foundation, a non-profit entity to which we will donate all the shares of Sequentia AG (currently owned by me and Andreas).
We have already found a good part of the technical staff with the necessary experience (Rubboli get lost!), thanks to Yann Wong, co-creator of OmniBOLT, who will develop Sequentia with the full support of his team. We start with Elements as a codebase (same as Blockstream Liquid), recovering months wasted by Mintlayer with Substrate and – more recently – in trying to write a blockchain from scratch that has nothing to do with a Bitcoin sidechain. To Elements, we’ll add three major developments:
- Cryptographic sortition (Algorand-style) for a PoS governance
- Anchoring to Bitcoin blocks (Sequentia is the first “Bitcoin slavechain”)
- An open market for transaction fees, i.e. any token issued on Sequentia (e.g. any stablecoin), can be used to pay for transaction fees as long as accepted by block creators.
Furthermore, over the past few months, we have also made great strides in the documentation and definition of the Consensus mechanism, which until now, for Mintlayer, I had only sketched in “draft”. In fact, the Consensus paper has always been – as still indicated on the Mintlayer website – only a draft. And I can assure you that Rubboli has no idea where to start to bring it to fruition. After years, I have finally published the Consensus in the form of a Theoretical paper, which you can find here: http://docs.sequentia.io. Also the white paper is completely renewed and improved in every aspect.
But what is special about this project? Why do I care so much?
Today, there is no sensible reason why everything in the crypto world that is not Bitcoin – from stablecoins to DeFi to decentralized exchanges – is not part of the Bitcoin ecosystem. No one has created the technology to make that possible. Yet, there is no lack of incentives: there are as many as $8 billion in BTC derivatives used on other blockchains, with over $300 million in daily volumes on Uniswap alone. If there was a solution strong enough to surmount the sticking point of adoption, this huge market would have direct connection to the Bitcoin epicenter rather than indirect alternative solutions that require “pegging-in” and the creation of derivatives and “trust” that is a bit closer to blind faith than anyone would prefer.
With Mintlayer, despite having a weak technical management following the development, incomplete documentation and the total absence of structural guarantees in the company, armed only with this idea and a little marketing directed by me, plus Andreas’ contacts and business development, we were able to create a vibrant community and raise $18 million. Now that we finally have what it takes, we can really try to dethrone Ethereum and Binance Smart Chain.
Call me crazy, but I see a future in which a Bitcoin (and Sequentia) wallet allows you to transact multiple different financial assets (USDC, USDT, stock tokens etc.) and exchange them directly for Bitcoin in a peer-to-peer manner, while maintaining scalability, privacy and decentralization thanks to the Lightning Network.
At least, the script for the movie is already there, so I don’t see why not!
To support us in the project, join the community by clicking here:
DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH
For anyone who wants to find other confirmations of this story, beyond the many screenshots and attached documents, I bring you a list of about fifteen people of the team (former Mintlayer) who I imagine that if contacted will be able to report what they have seen. Not everyone is certainly aware of everything, but they will be able to witness for their part. You are also invited to check everything with any person not listed below, but mentioned in the course of the article [DISCLAIMER: the following list allows you to understand the “thinning” in the ranks of the team by Rubboli, but I have not asked each one of them about their willingness to testify]:
- Andreas Kohl, ex Mintlayer team – Fundraising e business development
- Sarita Yasmin, ex Mintlayer team – Fundraising e business development
- Christopher Connelly, ex Mintlayer team – Community
- Ahmad Arabi, ex Mintlayer team – Social
- Ankit Nayan, ex Mintlayer team – Community
- Georgi Karov, ex Mintlayer team – legal
- Guillermo Hernandez, ex Mintlayer team – Marketing
- Deborah Sgrò, ex Mintlayer team – Marketing
- Pascal Hugli, ex Mintlayer team – Content writer
- Christian Lupascu, ex Mintlayer team – Criprography
- Aleksandras Gaska, ex Mintlayer team – co-founder & operations
- Amin Razavi, ex Mintlayer team – Software engineering
- Camilla Reggiani, ex Mintlayer team – Legal advisor
- Raphael Yakobi, – Legal advisor
- Ian Staley, Advisor – Fundraising
- Joeri Pross, Advisor – Hypercube videos
- The majority of Mintlayer investors
Finally, my dear attorney Annetta, I turn to you. I read, as you wrote to Mintlayer investors, that Rubboli gave you a mandate to sue me for defamation. But how did you go about suing me for defamation when I hadn’t written anything yet? Was it a threat to keep me quiet? It worked great! Now you will be happy, look at how much material I have finally penned about your client. It’s fun, isn’t it? I challenge you: find not a whole sentence, but even just 3 words in a row, that are not true.