Deon Swiggs in 2016 when he was elected to the Christchurch City Council.
Former Christchurch councilor and current Environment Canterbury (ECan) contender Deon Swiggs is distancing himself from a self-styled prince of the metaverse with whom he directed a company.
Swiggs, who was elected to the Christchurch City councilor in 2016, became a founding director of Accendos Group in September 2020 alongside Victor Cattermole, himself a former Christchurch mayoral contender.
Cattermole has a checkered business history including failed ventures, bankruptcy, liquidations, criminal convictions and bans put in place by the Securities Commission.
Accendos was set up to represent investors in the failed Christchurch cryptocurrency exchange Crytopia that went bust in May 2019 after financial trouble and a $25 million hack. The liquidators of the company are still investigating the hack and have yet to release any funds to Cryptopia’s customers.
* Liquidation of hacked cryptocurrency firm Cryptopia heading towards $15m
* Assets worth $62,000 allegedly stolen from liquidated company Cryptopia
* Former employee allegedly stole almost $250k worth of cryptocurrency from Cryptopia
* Controversial businessman recruiting Cryptopia victims for class action
In 2020, the High Court in Christchurch mistakenly gave Cattermole a USB stick containing details of Cryptopia’s 900,000 clients in 183 countries.
The liquidators obtained High Court orders requiring the return and deletion of the material, but Cattermole did not comply, prompting the liquidators to take enforcement action. In July 2021, Cattermole admitted contempt of court, incurred a fine of $7500 and agreed to pay costs of $50,000 to the liquidators.
Cryptopia Rescue claims to be a team of “seasoned professionals” capable of representing Cryptopia account holders “to get the representation they deserve”.
The team also purports to be part of Cogito, a virtual state or principality in the metaverse of which Cattermole has appointed himself prince and “chairman of the Crown Council”.
Swiggs, who is standing in Christchurch West for a seat on Environment Canterbury in the upcoming election, said he would resign his directorship of Accendos immediately. He had been involved in early 2020 because he wanted to help Cryptopia investors who seemed to be getting a raw deal.
“There was an information vacuum. Accendos was a mechanism to have a conversation with the liquidators,” he said.
“As soon as it started getting involved with Cogito I didn’t have any more to do with it.”
He had now learned a lot more and believed Accendos had lost its reason for operating, he said.
“It something I need to tidy up,” he said of his name still appearing as a director.
He was aware of Cattermole’s non-cooperation of a “major privacy breach” and his failure to depart Accendos then was an oversight, he said.
As for rubbing shoulders with royalty like Cattermole, Swiggs said he had shaken hands with Prince Charles so had experienced the real thing. He had never called Cattermole Prince.
He had nothing to do with Cogito and wanted nothing to do with it.
He agreed he should have looked more carefully at his fellow directors but ultimately “I was focused on trying to help people”.
He had not lost money in Cryptopia but had lost money on the Luna currency.
Cogito’s website claims the principality was established as a decentralized libertarian state, “first developed in the early 1990s by a reclusive dyslexic entrepreneur. The mastermind documentation around the technology and concept was locked away for many years until it was stumbled upon in early 2017”.
A group of Christchurch businessmen, who became citizens and invested time and money in the project in recruiting other citizens and businesses, have, in recent months, walked away from the project disillusioned.
Liquidators have locked down Christchurch-based Cryptopia. (Video first published in May 2019)