The man known internationally as “Bitcoin Jesus” and whose real name is Roger Ver wants persons looking to acquire a second citizenship passport to avoid the programme being run by the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government in Grenada.
Ver is not happy with the action taken by the regime in St. George’s to address a complaint made to them in November 2016 about an alleged fraud committed against him by one of its approved passport-selling agents, NTL Trust and its Managing Director, Robert Martin Oveson.
The Tokyo-based multi-millionaire claims that he handed over US$1 million to Oveson for a passport which he did not get and never was given back his money.
Ver who consented to an interview with THE NEW TODAY newspaper pointed out that anyone looking for second citizenship should choose any other programme but Grenada.
He said: “Robert Martin Oveson cheated me and cheated me intentionally and openly and now that that’s come out to the open and I’ve reported it directly to the government, so far the Grenada
government hasn’t taken any steps to resolve that issue and until that happens I don’t think anybody should trust the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Programme”.
As a public service, THE NEW TODAY reproduces in full the interview that was conducted with Ver who filed a criminal complaint with the Grenada Police against Oveson and is also pursuing him in the civil court in order to get back his money.
NEW TODAY: Who exactly is Roger Ver?
VER: I was born and raised in Silicon Valley. I started my own company there back in the late 90s – a company called memorydealers.com. At the same time I was doing that I also sold a
product called Pest Control Report 2000 which used to be a fire cracker used by farmers. I was selling that on ebay.
I (also) ran (for the) California State Assembly as a Libertarian candidate in the United States. (I) called the FBI and ATF a bunch of murderers in reference to the kids they burnt to death in a church in Waco, Texas in 1993. That wound up making the ATF and FBI angry with me and wound up being the only person in the United States to be prosecuted for selling this product without a permit.
I eventually signed a pre-agreement; I served 10 months in Federal prison. The day I was allowed to leave the country, I left the United States and haven’t lived there since. I have been living in Japan since then.
I became a St. Kitts Citizen in 2014. I have been spreading my time between St. Kitts and Japan and in 2011 I became the first person in the entire world to start investing in bitcoin related status and bitcoin companies. I am involved in Bitcoin full time today and I am the CEO of Bitcoin.com
NEW TODAY: So that’s where you basically make your money, in Bitcoins?
VER: Actually I have made more money in Bitcoin now but I had a very successful career in high tech field selling networking equipment to my company Memory Dealers long before Bitcoin had already been invented.
NEW TODAY: How did Mr Ver get to know about the Grenada CBI Programme and why did you choose Robert Martin Oveson as the agent to try and get the passport for you?VER: I was googling on the internet and I came across the Grenada Citizen by Investment Programme and notice that Grenada has visa free travel to China and that was very attractive to me because I go to China very often on business and it’s always a pain to have to apply for visas for that so I wanted to obtain a Citizenship in Grenada so that I can travel more easily around the world for my business interests.
I saw on the Grenada government website that it listed NTL as a trusted authorised international marketing agent or something to that effect and I saw on their website that they were established in 1993 or ’94 and so I thought, oh, this company has been around for a long long time, they’re recommended by the Grenada government, everything should go smoothly.
Much, much later I found out that Robert Oveson who didn’t use his real name with me the entire time and I just found out his real name maybe three months ago – he had just bought the company maybe six months before I started my application there. It was a brand new owner and the previous guy who founded the company was no longer involved in any way.
NEW TODAY: So you are saying that Robert Oveson was not really the original owner of NTL Trust, he probably bought it sometime later?
VER: He bought it maybe a few months earlier before I contacted him and asked to hire him to be my representative in Grenada and it’s also worth knowing the entire time Robert represented himself as being Robert Martin. I thought his last name was Martin the entire time and even when there were emails with the other Oveson brother I had no idea they were related.
They very conveniently on their part made it seem like they were not related and had different last names. I thought that one person’s last name was Oveson and the other was Martin and in hindsight that’s very, very suspicious to me as well. Why would he hide his real last name from me the entire time?
NEW TODAY: Are you saying that the other Oveson brother was also involved in NTL Trust?
VER: The other Oveson brother was involved in the Levera Project and Robert representing himself as Robert Martin, rather than Robert Martin Oveson told me that I should invest in the Levera project run by this other Mr. Oveson who I had no idea was his brother or was related to him in any way because I thought they had different family names. I thought one was Mr. Martin and the other was Mr. Oveson and so they intentionally hid that aspect from me as well.
NEW TODAY: Mr. Ver, can you tell me exactly what was the arrangement you had with Mr. Oveson to obtain the Grenada passport?
VER: The initial agreement was that I was going to invest three hundred and fifty thousand US dollars into the Mount Cinnamon project and I invested that money and paid promptly and filled out all the forms and got all the records and did everything that was required and then waited and waited and waited and waited and waited some more and every time I would ask Robert what’s the status of my application, he’d say things are progressing, things are headed in the right direction, things are going to be just fine and after almost a year of waiting I was getting tired of waiting.
At some point earlier on I told him, “hey, you know this is taking a long time” and after 10 months of waiting he said well things can go much, much faster if you switch your investment from three hundred and fifty thousand dollars in Mount Cinnamon to a million dollars in the Levera Project. He said things would go much faster.
At this point I wanted to become a citizen of Grenada, so I agreed and I switched my investment from the three hundred and fifty thousand dollars in Mount Cinnamon to one million US dollars in the Levera Project and then waited a bit more and waited and waited and waited. I got tired of waiting so I went to Grenada in person and just through good luck I was staying at the Mount Cinnamon Hotel and at breakfast one morning I was talking with one of the employers there. He was a British guy and he said, “what are you doing here”, and I said, “I am applying for Citizenship here”.
He said, “what’s your name?. I said, “my name is Roger Ver, I am involved in Bitcoin stuff”, and the light bulb clicked in his head and he said, “you don’t know the current status of you Citizenship application? I said, “yeah it still pending, I have been waiting for about a year for this whole thing to go through”. And he said, “no, your application was denied almost a year ago” and that absolutely shocked me.
I had no idea that that was the case. I had flown all the way from Japan to Grenada which is not a short trip, specifically to check on the status of my application and then when I am at breakfast one morning I found out that my application had been denied almost an entire year earlier and that Robert Martin Oveson has been keeping that fact completely secret from me that entire time and tricked me from three hundred thousand dollars, he tricked me into increasing that to a million dollars into a project that was run by his brother apparently and I didn’t even know this project was run by his brother, he kept that secret from me.
So basically he kept all this fact secret from me, that if I had known I would not have invested any additional money in Grenada, I would have asked for my initial money back and moved on with my life.
Life is short and I have been dealing with this for well over a year and a half now and I am busy enough already and it’s frustrating that somebody listed and as an authorised representative of the Grenada government to market the Citizenship by Investment programme would be running around, cheating and defrauding people and tricking them into investing a million dollars that they certainly would not have invested if they had known the whole truth.
NEW TODAY: How did you actually send that money to Mr. Oveson?
VER: I sent the one million dollars by bank wire transfer. One hundred and twenty five thousand each was the maximum amount that I could do online so I sent eight transfers for a hundred and twenty five thousand dollars each which was one million US dollars.
NEW TODAY: Did the money go directly to him or it went through the local agent?
VER: I can tell you the name of the account it went to…It was sent to Grant Joseph and Company though the RBTT Bank in Grenada…account number 7603335
NEW TODAY: I’ve seen documents in which you have said the first payment from Mt. Cinnamon, that money was returned to you minus fees and the second payment, the million US dollars, that one that you are talking about that was sent to the same account?
VER: No, I believe it was sent to a different account…The first wire for Mt. Cinnamon was sent to Sheila Margaret Harris account number 1170016…the second account went to Grant, Joseph and Company…account number 7603335.
NEW TODAY: You are saying that you have never received back that one million dollar payment?
VER: Absolutely not, absolutely have not received it back.
NEW TODAY: Could you also tell us, what exactly that one million US was sent for?
VER: It was sent for investment in the Levera Project in order to obtain citizenship by (an) investment programme.
NEW TODAY: The reason why I am asking you that (is) based on what you said earlier that you learnt at Mt. Cinnamon that your application was turned down and my understanding is that once your application is turned down you cannot apply again, a second time.
VER: That’s my understanding too but I send the one million dollars long before I found out that my application had been declined. I thought my application was still pending at that time.
NEW TODAY: There has been an allegation made here by I think a Minister of State by the name of Simon Stiell that your money was sent back to you. Could you clarify that?
VER: That’s false. I haven’t received any of my money back from the one million dollars that I invested in the Levera Project.
NEW TODAY: Could you tell me what kind of discussions you had with Mr Oveson as regards to the return of your money? I am talking about the one million dollars.
VER: When I found out that my application has been denied and that Robert had tricked me into investing the one million US dollars, Robert still didn’t know that I knew and I had a lunch scheduled withhim the very next day, so I met him for that lunch and I didn’t tell him that I knew that my application had already been denied.
I asked him very clearly and very directly at that lunch, I said, “what is the status of my Citizenship application in Grenada?’ and he said, “oh things are still moving along and everything is just fine”.
Any honest person would have said very clearly, “oh your application has been denied “and if they were planning to appeal it or do something but he didn’t say anything of the sort.
He completely and directly face to face over a lunch table, he told me that my application was still pending and was still moving through the process. I didn’t confront him right then and there that I knew. I waited for the next day and talked to a lawyer in Grenada and talked to some other people in Grenada and the next day I confronted him about it and I said, ‘hey, what do you want to tell me about the fact that my application was denied almost a year ago?’
And he said, “oh, oh”, and he didn’t have an answer for that and I said, “I want all of my money back and I want all of my money back now” and he said, “I don’t have your money, the best I can do is pay you a hundred thousand dollars a month for the next 10 months to give you your money back” and I said, “no, you need to give me back all of my money and you need to give me back now” because obviously I don’t trust this person that was lying right to my face the day before.
If he is promising to pay me over the next 10 months, I don’t believe that either and if you honestly wanted to do that, obviously something is better than nothing, he hasn’t given me a single penny of the million dollars back yet.
NEW TODAY: If I read you correctly, that meeting took place in Grenada here?
VER: I was physically there in Grenada, yes.
NEW TODAY: Prior to that, did you ever meet him in person?
VER: My trip to Grenada was the first time I met him in person. Prior to that I have only exchanged emails and Skype calls with him.
NEW TODAY: I also understand that you filed a criminal complaint against Mr. Oveson. Can you tell us something about that?
VER: When you trick someone into investing a million dollars under false pretenses, that’s fraud in just about any country in the world.
NEW TODAY: The criminal complaint – you went into the CID in person to file it?
VER: Yep, I went there in person and I hired a local attorney, Mr. Ruggles Ferguson to help me with the civil side as well. So I filed a criminal complaint and a civil complaint against Robert Martin Oveson.
NEW TODAY: What I was trying to ask you is if you physically went into the CID here in Grenada and met with an officer?
VER: Yes, I physically went in person to the officer in Grenada myself and met with the officer myself and gave a full report and spent maybe four hours there giving the report.
NEW TODAY: So you gave them documents also?
VER: Yep, I provided them with everything and gave a written statement and spent lots of time explaining to them what took place.
NEW TODAY: How long ago was that?
VER: In January.
NEW TODAY: Have you heard anything since then from the Grenada police as regards to your complaint?
VER: Yeah, they contacted me maybe two weeks ago. I had another phone call with them at that time and gave them a bit more information over the phone.
NEW TODAY: Could you at this stage probably divulge what it is they were asking?
VER: More about Robert Oveson and the Levera Project and what he asked me in regards to trick me into investing the million dollars.
NEW TODAY: I also understand and which I have seen and it is published in the New Today Newspaper, that you had some kind of contact or communication with a lady by the name of Mrs Ince, who I believe at the time was the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister and she still there but in a different capacity, can you tell us about that encounter with her?
VER: Last year, I had my agent hand deliver to her in person a letter explaining exactly what was going on in regards to the fraud committed by Robert Oveson.
NEW TODAY: It is my understanding that she did give you a reply on the third of November?
VER: She replied pretty quickly saying that they were going to look into it I believe
NEW TODAY: Since that letter from Ms Ince, has there been any communication between yourself and her because it is my understanding that she promised you that an investigation is taking place into Mr. Oveson. Has she communicated anything to you since November 3rd?
VER: I am not aware of having any additional contact from her to either myself directly or any of my agents that are helping me…so I don’t think so.
NEW TODAY: Were you surprised after making that complaint to Mrs Ince to see the Prime Minister of this country attend a function in Levera along with Mr Oveson to launch a project after you made that allegation that your one million US was stolen or fraudulently taken away from you by Mr. Oveson for that project?
VER: I was really surprised and really disappointed to see that and even more surprised that Robert Martin Oveson project and company are still listed on the Grenada Government website as an approved agent to help people that want to obtain citizenship in Grenada.
When there is this big of a problem brewing, it seems crazy to me that they would still be listed on the government’s website as an official authorized agent … it should be taken down immediately so more people like me don’t have the same problems when dealing with this guy.
NEW TODAY: It is my understanding that the civil lawsuit filed that there can be some kind of early hearing of it in Grenada and that the first hearing might be Wednesday this week?
VER: I heard that there is going to be a hearing but I think the first initial hearing, not much happen at that point and I have retained local counsel to help me with all that because I am sure they are much more qualified in regards to that than I am myself.
NEW TODAY: That one million US dollar that you deposited in that account, did you give any instructions to anybody to make that money available to Mr. Oveson?
VER: It is my understanding that money was going to be held in escrow until the time I am either approved for citizenship or if I was denied the money will be returned to me…that was the information conveyed to me by Mr Robert Oveson.
NEW TODAY: I hear Mr Oveson brother made a statement to the effect that within the CBI, there is some provision that you can apply and based on how you apply, even if you are not granted citizenship you can lose your money. Did you sign any such agreement with Oveson?
VER: No, not that I am aware of. No, absolutely not.
NEW TODAY: As somebody who had a particular experience with the Grenada CBI, what would you tell future investors that they should probably do in order to avoid being scammed by any investor who is an agent of that programme?
VER: For anyone that’s looking for second citizenship, they should choose any programme but Grenada at this point because Robert Martin Oveson cheated me and cheated me intentionally and openly and now that that’s come out to the open and I’ve reported it directly to the government, so far the Grenada government hasn’t taken any steps to resolve that issue and until that happens I don’t think anybody should trust the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Programme.
NEW TODAY: Would you probably consider taking some kind of legal action against the Grenada government – it is their programme and the agent is their agent?
VER: He is their authorised representative yeah, he has the endorsement of the Grenada government and that’s a really, really big problem for anybody that’s looking or even considering applying for citizenship in Grenada. I have a big problem for the way the government of Grenada has handled the fraud replicated by Mr Oveson.