The track record of the «Apollo Currency» team - FFC Media

The track record of the «Apollo Currency» team

If you’ve ever been cheated by swindlers and you want to know what they’re up to right now, make no mistake: search them out in crypto projects leading up to an ICO. Petty and big‐time swindlers of all sorts have moved into the sector en masse.

Let’s take the decentralized crypto exchange Apollo Currency, for instance. You’ll immediately find two persons of interest in its list of founders: the American Steve McCullah (their PR Director) and the Ukrainian Sergey Rokhvarg. If you take a deeper look in their biographical details, a lot of interesting stuff emerges.

Let’s start with the American. On the Apollo Currency website, he boasts that he worked with the US Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security. True, it follows from his LinkedIn profile that he was a sales rep and marketing officer for a company that sold medical products to the US Department of Defense, but you have to agree the description on the crypto project’s website is more impressive.

The same Steve McCullah (granted, under the name Stephen, not Steve, but with the same photograph) can be found on Kickstarter, where back in 2012 he raised money for an expedition to the Congo to study little known species of animals and plants and to film a documentary about the expedition. He raised the money, but presumably found a better use for it. The film’s backers are still trying to get their money back (without any success). There’s little hope they’ll win since Stephen McCullah’s account was deleted from Kickstarter. They should advise deceived investors to get their funds back from Apollo Currency.

The project’s CTO, the Ukrainian Sergey Rokhvarg, is of even more interest. He’s the public face and director of the Ukrainian company Universal Information Technology (UIT), which corrupt high‐ranking Ukrainian officials use to launder funds from the state budget and Ukrainian state corporations. This company belongs to an offshore Cypriot company, which in turn belongs to another offshore, which belongs to the former Minister of Energy and Coal Mining under the dictator Yanukovych, Eduard Stavitsky. After the Ukrainians overthrew Yanukovych, Stavitsky fled Ukraine, spent some time on Interpol’s wanted list, and has presently taken up residency in Israel, having changed his last name to Rosenberg just in case. In spite of the fact that Ukraine has had a new government since 2014, state and state corporation funds continue to be pilfered through the company, which Apollo Currency’s CTO manages.

Ukrainian investigative journalists have spoken about the unimaginative scheme high‐ranking kleptocrats are using to steal Ukrainians” money. First, the company circumvents tender procedures and receives contact awards to develop software for state agencies and state corporations (like the Interior Ministry, Ukrainian Railwaysи, the Poligrafcombinat Ukraine state corporation, the National Bank of Ukraine, the Kyiv municipality, and so on), and then, after implementing the software (that was developed for a godly sum of money), the company receives money for every transaction using the same PO. 

At that kleptocrats aren’t ashamed in the least: for example, the «unique software» that UIT developed was used to print the most ordinary barcode on excise stamps which are affixed to EVERY packet of cigarettes and on EVERY bottle of alcohol sold in Ukraine — and at that, the journalists faked this «unfakable» barcode using an ordinary Xerox, and the tax inspectors who were supposed to be checking whether products were faked or not with the barcode weren’t even given scanners for their job. But the money for EVERY excise stamp that was printed with this barcode and for the state corporation that was printing them was, without fail, funneled through the company owned by Apollo Currency’s CTO.

Well, to wrap things up, a little bit of linguistics. It turns out that Ukraine even created a new word in honor of the CTO of Apollo Currency: rokhvarging. We’ll quote its meaning in full:

Rokhvarging (method) — from the last name of the famous swindler from Kyiv Sergey Leonidovich Rokhvarg — a fraudulent method of hiring workers. The method involved hiring an expert to work at a previously agreed to appealing monthly salary, which stops being paid out after a precisely calculated time just before the project or a step in the project is completed. As a result, the worker continues working out of inertia for another two to three months, finishing the project before quitting himself or they send him on a soi‐disant «vacation» at the employee’s own expense. Of course, his salary comes in an envelope. After being fired, endless promises to pay back debts follow with endless explanations for why they haven’t been paid.

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