Renwick Haddow in custody after Morocco arrest.
Suspect of scam involving UAE investors had history of financial fraud accusations
Renwick Haddow sits on a gondola in Venice, smiling like the successful, millionaire “entrepreneur” that he is.
None of his investors are pictured with him, and if they were it would be doubtful that their smiles would be quite so wide.
He had taken them for a different kind of ride.
Scores of people who bought in to Haddow’s schemes, including investors from the UAE, are poorer for it.
But they may have some hope of recuperating their losses after his latest overseas jaunt, this one to Tangiers, ended with his arrest in this week.
Little is known about Haddow personally but a Bloomberg profile says he holds a degree from Thames Valley University in Slough, outside London.
He is known to have lived in New York since 2014, but a bankruptcy order from the UK authorities listed his address as The Ellipsis, an upmarket penthouse complex in the Happy Valley district of Hong Kong.
Haddow, 49, was owner and controller of Bar Works, where people could pay a membership fee to share office space in trendy, renovated bars and restaurants.
Among the investors around the world for his hot-desk start-up were more than 40 in the UAE.
In 2008, Haddow was disqualified from serving as a director of any UK company for eight years after investors lost all or a substantial part of their money.
In July 2013, the UK financial conduct authority brought a civil action against him for running collective investment schemes that raised £16.9 million through misleading statements to investors, and unauthorised investment schemes.
In March 2015, the British court of appeal upheld the ruling.
FBI reports show that in November 2014, Haddow established InCrowd – a crowdfunding portal in Delaware offering the chance to buy shares in start-ups vetted by the company.
Also in Delaware, Haddow set up Bitcoin Store in December 2014, an online platform for customers to trade and store in the digital currency Bitcoin.
Haddow signed as president of both in federal documents.
Between May and December 2015, US court papers reveal Bitcoin Store raised more than $700,000 from more than 40 investors, and at least $590,000 raised by InCrowd was deposited into Haddow’s account.
Bar Works was also a Delaware company, owned and controlled by Haddow. In July 2015, he bought all 20 million of its shares for just $2,000.
The company was said to be operating two venues in Manhattan, with a third opening in Manhattan’s West Village.
Investors in Dubai and Abu Dhabi were encouraged to invest in similar projects in San Francisco and Istanbul.
Brokers cold-called investors and then followed up with calls from “closers” to seal the deal.
An FBI investigation has uncovered the Brit’s illegal activity, claiming Haddow solicited investments in Bitcoin Store and Bar Works through “material misrepresentation”.
He is also accused of failing to disclose to investors that he had an ownership interest in all three companies, and misappropriating funds without their permission for his own use.
Investors in the UAE are instructing lawyers in Dubai at further cost to proceed with a joint case against those brokers who sold them Bar Works units.
Prosecutors accuse Haddow of funnelling at least $18 million to accounts in 40 countries, including China, Cyprus, Mauritius and Morocco.
He accused of two counts of wire fraud, with each carrying a 20-year jail term.
The FBI wire fraud investigation document handed to a New York judge told of the last email conversation between Haddow and an employee.
As the authorities closed in, the employee suggested that he hire some “great lawyers” and put a “massive distance” between him and investigators.
“I agree with you totally”, he responded.