Hearing for Sask. Bitcoin mining firm delves into politics – Regina Leader

REGINA — Political intrigue and hints of hacking crept into a Regina securities hearing focused on an upstart Bitcoin company.

“Do you have anything against the Conservative Party?� lawyer Cloudesley Rook-Hobbs asked Thursday in cross-examining the investigator who dug into Dominion Bitcoin Mining Company Ltd.

The lawyer referred to Dominion’s president Peter Voldeng, a former Saskatchewan Party president, and to Dominion’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 ­— not anyone’s politics. The line of questioning by Dearborn’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 “the convoluted set of facts.�

The confusion isn’t over the controversial cryptocurrency, but what was or wasn’t public on Dominion’s website. It’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 White’s attention in particular were statements about “ten provincially held entities that each contract with Dominion.�

It continued: “When 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 “that would not be a factual statement.�

Gibbon, who built the site, told White the company was a work in progress and agreed those statements didn’t “seem right.�

“None of this had really been hashed out,� Gibbon said, adding that’s why the website was taken down.

He later added, “To be honest, I didn’t think this thing was even live back then … This page and a couple of others shouldn’t have even been live at that point,â€� he said. “That’s strange.â€�

For the respondents that’s the crux of their defence to the allegations.

They repeatedly grilled White about pages of “gibberish� he originally printed from Dominion’s website, suggesting they are proof the website wasn’t publicly accessible because the pages were encrypted. Gibbon, in his cross-examination of White, suggested the investigator only gained access through a “back door.�

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 ­— something all three men denied in their interviews with White. The website address starts the same in each case ­— with dominionbitcoin.com — but the one accessed later includes the extension “#!blogger-feed.�

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 Bitcoin’s chair, it added up to one thing: “It begs the question whether our website was hacked,� Dearborn charged in cross-examination.

The hearing continues today.

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