Friday, September 20, 2013

Are Taxpayers About To Fund An e-Gold Comeback?

MELBOURNE, Florida -- In the early morning of September 18, 2013, Brevard Times had emailed all of the Brevard County Commissioners and the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast regarding the appearance of a conflict of interest after a State of Florida corporate filing indicated that Commissioner Mary Bolin-Lewis and EDC President and CEO Lynda Weatherman were listed as directors of CMO, Inc. with the EDC's Rockledge, Florida address listed as CMO's business address.  Listed as Board Chairman of CMO was Carol Van Cleef, a certified anti-money laundering specialist and financial transaction attorney in Washington, D.C.

Commissioner Bolin-Lewis and the EDC did not respond to the Brevard Times inquiry.  Instead, an article in FLORIDA TODAY appeared later that night addressing the topic.  Former EDC Chairman William Cunningham, who is listed as President of CMO, was attributed in that article as saying that CMO, which stands for "Coeptis Membership Organization," would become a gold-based online payment business and that he had mistakenly listed Bolin-Lewis and Weatherman as directors of CMO when, in fact, they were only unpaid advisers.  Cunningham said that he had turned to the EDC for assistance in funding of CMO.

The EDC receives $1.4 million annually from the County, which Bolin-Lewis has voted in favor of such taxpayer funding.  Earlier this month, Bolin-Lewis argued against performing an audit of the EDC, citing a $30,000 price tag for the audit.

The appearance of a scandal involving CMO, the EDC, and Bolin-Lewis comes on the heels of the BlueWare scandal that resulted in the arrest of former Brevard County Clerk of Courts Mitch Needelman on bribery charges in August.  In 2012, the EDC took credit for bringing BlueWare to Brevard.

Just prior to the CMO story breaking, another company that caused controversy in Brevard, Xun Energy, Inc., was recently brought by the EDC to the Brevard County Commission for tax exemptions.  Brevard Commissioner Andy Anderson recused himself from voting on that matter because he is an active real estate agent for the agency representing Xun Energy in the purchase of a commercial building that was the subject property of the tax exemption.

Also in the September 18 Brevard Times email to Commissioners, the Commissioners were asked if they would care to disclose all business relationships or other financial interests that the Commissioners have relating to the EDC, its officers, and companies that the EDC is assisting.  Only two of the five Commissioners responded.

"I have no business interests other than being a part time real estate associate where I focus on residential properties," wrote Commissioner Anderson.  

"I do not have any current or past conflict of interest with the EDC," wrote Commissioner Trudie Infantini, the sole supporter on the Commission for an EDC audit.  "Nor have I ever accepted anything from the EDC."

According to the website, Coeptis is "A Membership Organization dedicated to advancing the welfare of its Members through economic means" where "The value in your account is secured and fully backed by a 100% reserve of physical gold."

Although there was no mention of e-Gold in the FLORIDA TODAY article, internet registry records for the website indicate that the registrant organization is Melbourne, Florida-based Fulcrum IP Co.  According to State of Florida records, Fulcrum IP Co was incorporated in 2011 with Douglas Jackson listed as President and Reid Jackson listed as Treasurer.

In 2008, Melbourne business E-Gold, a similar gold-based online payment company, and its corporate affiliate Gold & Silver Reserve Inc. each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in money laundering and conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release. The principal director of E-Gold and CEO of Gold & Silver Reserve Inc., Dr. Douglas L. Jackson,  of Melbourne, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. E-Gold’s other two senior directors, Barry K. Downey, of Baltimore, and Reid A. Jackson, of Melbourne, each pleaded guilty to felony violations of District of Columbia law relating to operating a money transmitting business without a license. E-Gold, Gold & Silver Reserve and the three company directors were charged in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in 2007.

Many anti-Federal Reserve internet blogs at that time accused the Federal government of making e-Gold a scapegoat because, according to the bloggers, the government saw e-Gold as a threat to its control over the U.S. monetary system.

In January 2012, Douglas Jackson was quoted in Digital Gold Currency magazine as saying,  "My hope is that one day soon this robust IP can be licensed to a financial institution or agency, whether new or established, that is fully acceptable to regulators and licensable in the various jurisdictions."

During that 2012 interview, Jackson went on to say "Yes, we are in negotiations to license the IP but no deal has been signed. A major factor in concluding such a deal is the ability of the potential licensee to obtain regulatory approvals to operate the system using the IP." 

UPDATE: It has been brought to the attention of Brevard Times that Hometown News first made the connection between Cunningham and E-Gold in a 2008 article.  In that article, it was uncovered that Cunningham was listed as a point of contact for E-Gold.