REGINA â€” Political intrigue and hints of hacking crept into a Regina securities hearing focused on an upstart Bitcoin company.
â€œDo you have anything against the Conservative Party?â€� lawyer Cloudesley Rook-Hobbs asked Thursday in cross-examining the investigator who dug into Dominion Bitcoin Mining Company Ltd.
The lawyer referred to Dominionâ€™s president Peter Voldeng, a former Saskatchewan Party president, and to Dominionâ€™s chairman Jason Dearborn, a former Sask. Party MLA. He also noted, Jim Gibbon, also involved in the company, once ran for Edmonton city council.
But securities investigator Harvey White said his interest was the activities of Dominion Ââ€” not anyoneâ€™s politics. The line of questioning by Dearbornâ€™s lawyer was ended by objections to its relevance.
As the second day of the hearing drew to a close amid more objections and accusations, one hearing panel member remarked on â€œthe convoluted set of facts.â€�
The confusion isnâ€™t over the controversial cryptocurrency, but what was or wasnâ€™t public on Dominionâ€™s website. Itâ€™s alleged Dominion and the three founders violated the Securities Act by publicly advertising or soliciting sales of securities on the site without proper registration, not filing a prospectus and by making misleading claims.
Some of the references that caught Whiteâ€™s attention in particular were statements about â€œten provincially held entities that each contract with Dominion.â€�
It continued: â€œWhen you purchase a share you are purchasing assetts (sic) from Dominion Bitcoin Mining Corp. in the regional entities … Each purchased share asset guarantees you an equal share of all mined bitcoins.â€�
Interviewed by White, Dearborn conceded â€œthat would not be a factual statement.â€�
Gibbon, who built the site, told White the company was a work in progress and agreed those statements didnâ€™t â€œseem right.â€�
â€œNone of this had really been hashed out,â€� Gibbon said, adding thatâ€™s why the website was taken down.
He later added, â€œTo be honest, I didnâ€™t think this thing was even live back then … This page and a couple of others shouldnâ€™t have even been live at that point,â€� he said. â€œThatâ€™s strange.â€�
For the respondents thatâ€™s the crux of their defence to the allegations.
They repeatedly grilled White about pages of â€œgibberishâ€� he originally printed from Dominionâ€™s website, suggesting they are proof the website wasnâ€™t publicly accessible because the pages were encrypted. Gibbon, in his cross-examination of White, suggested the investigator only gained access through a â€œback door.â€�
The website address on those earlier printed pages also differs from what appears on the subsequent documents proffered to show Dominion was allegedly mining for investors Ââ€” something all three men denied in their interviews with White. The website address starts the same in each case Ââ€” with dominionbitcoin.com â€” but the one accessed later includes the extension â€œ#!blogger-feed.â€�
White attributed the garbed text to a printing glitch, adding that what he actually saw on his computer screen was clear text that fuelled his concerns. As for the differences in the addresses, White said he was provided a website address by an unnamed person (the panel has ruled the identity is irrelevant), believed he was always on the same Dominion Bitcoin website each time, and the changes were likely the result of clicking different links.
But to Dominion Bitcoinâ€™s chair, it added up to one thing: â€œIt begs the question whether our website was hacked,â€� Dearborn charged in cross-examination.
The hearing continues today.