Originally published on August 29, 2022 here. It continues to be updated as events progress.
My name is Chris Horlacher. From 2015 to 2019 I ran a federally recognized and subsidized scientific research and development company out of Toronto called Equibit Group. After finally reaching a multimillion dollar valuation through years of work, and with eager customers lining up to use our technology, our company was quite suddenly and inexplicably shattered.
Critical portions of our company’s work and research were stolen or destroyed, attempts were made to frame us for securities fraud, and my wife and I were harassed by the Canadian government for nearly 2 years.
This is our story:
With the invention of cryptocurrency after the shakeup of the 2008 worldwide financial crisis, Equibit saw an opportunity to greatly simplify securities trading and reduce users reliance on the large financial institutions who’d been a major point of failure in 2008 and who, from investors perspective, presented an enormous risk to their assets. Our team invested in the creation of the world’s first decentralized, blockchain-based, securities registration and communications system. This technology was, and still is, absolutely cutting edge. Our wallet could even perform cross-chain atomic swaps without ever leaving the application, a technological feat that has still never been replicated.
Had Equibit continued, it would have reduced costs and errors associated with settlements and investor communications. In plain English, this would have quickly replaced traditional financial sector methods for trading securities by being vastly more efficient and by cutting out several layers of middlemen. We were poised to completely disrupt the securities transfer agent and custodian sector, an industry which costs investors and issuers over $10 billion per year, processing quadrillions of dollars worth of transactions annually. As a long term industry insider, most recently as CFO of the Canadian-based arm of an international securities broker-dealer, I knew very well the enormous amount of waste involved in this dark corner of the industry. With our extensive credentials and the success of our technological development, private equity groups couldn’t wait to use our platform, and those who interestedly met with us collectively managed trillions of dollars.
In December 2016, as part of our legal preparation for launching the Equibit platform, we engaged a law firm to investigate Equibit and prepare an analysis regarding EQB’s, our blockchain’s native cryptocurrency, potential status as a security. After extensive investigation into the details of Equibit, lawyers from Davies, Ward, Philips & Vineberg, the top securities law firm in the country, arrived at the conclusion that Equibit’s cryptocurrency was not a security under the Pacific Coin test, basically the same thing as the US Howey test. We then sought the perspective of the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) on the Equibit technology we had developed thus far. In order to continue moving forward, we voluntarily requested a determination from OSC as to whether they thought Equibit’s native cryptocurrency (EQB) was a security. I was encouraged by the OSC Launchpad leader, Pat Chaukos, to “keep going” with our work. Similarly, OSC Launchpad attorney Amy Tsai referred us back to our own counsel for any questions about securities law. As our attorneys had advised us that EQB would not be considered a security under the law, we moved forward and began a sale of pre-mined EQB’s, which is the traditional method of funding new protocol development.
Beginning in early 2017, we suddenly experienced a full-scale assault by the OSC. After starting a sale of pre-mined EQBs (“Equibits”), we were dragged into OSC offices and interrogated based solely on an “anonymous” tip (i.e., from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service). Ignoring all previous discussion and determinations, OSC proceeded unilaterally with a quasi-enforcement procedure (and later, an actual enforcement procedure complete with secret gag orders) to stop sales of EQB. We fully complied with them, of course, and continued to communicate with OSC in support of our project – including sending them the nine page expert opinion from Davies, Ward, Philips & Vineberg. After some prodding, the OSC ultimately acknowledged to us that they had never even bothered to read any of our offering documents before acting. Even after receiving the expert opinion, which they took months before acknowledging, they simply dismissed it without explanation or reasoning. This was despite overwhelming support for our assessment across the international regulatory community.
Though incredibly hostile toward us, the meetings did eventually conclude with OSC telling us – on the record – to go ahead and complete our sale of the pre-mined EQB’s. Regardless, from that point onward the OSC’s behavior towards the company, my wife and myself became crude, deceitful, and malicious. All my interactions with OSC are documented in detail in an internal company memo originally published in early 2018 and continuously updated with ongoing details until the end of 2019.
It is now well known amongst lawyers across Ontario that Launchpad has been engaged in a systematic entrapment scheme, devastating every company that has come through their doors. They are single-handedly responsible for the dearth of quality companies in the crypto industry throughout Canada – a country that has had every opportunity to emerge as a global leader in the cryptocurrency space. Not only have they stood firmly in the way of legitimate developers, but the OSC stood idly by and did nothing while well-known frauds like BitConnect were being reported to them. To their credit, they eventually did issue a warning to investors some three months after the BitConnect ponzi-scheme had already collapsed.
In mid-2018 our lead developer suddenly disappeared for two weeks. When he returned, he informed us that he’d been hauled down to CSIS’s offices and interrogated for hours by two agents that he refused to identify to us. According to him, CSIS was intimately aware of internal, non-public details regarding Equibit’s technology, and induced him to reveal additional details regarding the company by leveraging his desire to become a Canadian citizen (he was a Russian immigrant). After revealing this to us, he said he had been granted Canadian citizenship and stunningly requested a promotion to the company’s “inner circle”. Then, just days later, he inexplicably resigned from Equibit, deleted the sole copy of Equibit’s most recent code, and ceased all communications with us.
As you can imagine, not only was this devastating to the project, it had a deeply chilling effect on the entire team. However, we were determined to press on. Without the ability to continue in Canada, my wife and I picked up everything and moved to Switzerland to try to save the company. We were welcomed with open arms by the Swiss, and Equibit received a “no-action” letter from their securities regulator – essentially a written confirmation that we were free to operate as planned without registration or oversight by them. They agreed that EQB was not a security, and affirmed that Equibit’s activities were not of a nature requiring reporting to or oversight by financial regulators, confirming we could continue unabated with the sale in order to fund and finalize development of the protocol. Unfortunately, after several hundred thousand dollars in costs dealing with OSC, the loss of critical portions of our code, and with the sudden collapse of crypto markets in late 2018, Equibit had become impossible to salvage.
Around this same time, while attending World Crypto Con in November 2018, my wife was attacked and drugged by two men who were witnessed (and thankfully prevented from) attempting to kidnap her. I have positively identified the two men as Australian nationals Rev Nissan, a so-called “crypto influencer” who posts a lot of “not investment advice” shilling – and profiting from – high risk crypto investments, and Azzam Elterekmani, who Rev introduced as his “cousin”. I suspect they may have been acting as Australian agents for the Five Eyes network (which only gained the pretense of oversight in 2017), as they routinely drug and even rape their targets.
We also personally know of at least two additional people who were drugged at the same conference, and it stands to reason that World Crypto Con 2018 was a hotbed of espionage activity. It was shortly after this incident that I also experienced a SIM-swap attack – which is a sophisticated, targeted attack used to intercept someone’s phone calls and messages. Fortunately, I had already taken measures to protect myself against these kinds of attacks (never, ever use SMS-based 2 factor authentication!) and so the damage was very limited. This attack was followed on July 3, 2021 by an attempt to steal my time-based one-time-password tokens out of Authy, a service that stores these encrypted tokens on their servers. Again, and fortunately, I do not actually use the Authy service and only registered for it. So, no damages were suffered.
With the failure of the company all but assured, in mid-February 2019 we decided to move from Switzerland back home to Canada. Upon our arrival, we were singled out and searched by airport customs. Despite being some of the only actual Canadian citizens on this flight, we were the only people out of an entire plane load of mostly non-Canadians to receive this enhanced screening. It was obvious that we had been flagged by Canadian authorities for unknown reasons. At the end of a thorough but ultimately fruitless search, the embarrassed customs agent proclaimed “Not everyone is as honest as you.”
I spent the next few months winding up the company, paying our vendors and severance to employees, and doing my best to mitigate any more losses. We had been destroyed by our own government for the “crime” of trying to do something innovative and positive. It took many months to heal from my depression and get back on my feet, and in 2020 and 2021 I filed several lawsuits against CSIS and the perpetrators of this travesty. I knew I would be surveilled and attacked again, so I created a trap for them within my home network (a honeypot named “Equibit-DEV”) to test my theory. Immediately after filing my lawsuits, someone began breaking into my home network and hit the honeypot I had set up for them several times. They also tried hacking my contact lists to figure out who I was talking to. Just so you know, your Bell and Roger’s gateways are back doors for the government to snoop on your entire network. That’s why they insist you use them instead of your own router.
It’s worth mentioning that, on Edward Snowden’s recommendation, I reached out to Citizen Lab, a group of IT security specialists holding themselves out as aid for activists and journalists targeted by corrupt states, via email with my situation and asked for their help. Though my email was forwarded multiple times internally, and I have the DMARC reports and read receipts to prove it, I received no response nor even an acknowledgment of my email. One by one I reached out to their entire team and received the same wall of silence. The Canada-based Citizen Labs wanted nothing to do with a Canadian citizen targeted by Canada’s government.
I also served ATIP requests on CSIS for everything they had on me and my company, which were, tellingly, refused on national security grounds. When I complained to the Office of the Information Commissioner, the OIC first attempted to elicit privileged information from my case against CSIS and then simply dismissed my complaint with no consideration given to its actual substance.
In the meantime the CSIS saboteur I had charged, Sergei Sachkov, defaulted on his obligation to file a statement of defense – meaning that, legally, they have admitted to the truth of all my allegations. The government similarly defaulted on filing its defense, but eventually filed, nearly a year after it was due, an entirely inappropriate two-page denial of any knowledge of the events I alleged. So much for the right to a speedy and fair trial in Canada.
At the end of 2018, as my company was crumbling, CSIS director David Vigneault had the nerve to unironically deliver a speech to the Economic Club of Canada warning their members about industrial espionage. He also said “accountability is at the center of everything we do”, which strikes me as utterly hypocritical coming from the head of an organization that is exempted from key sections of the Criminal Code, been caught repeatedly lying to judges in order to obtain warrants, destroying evidence a court ordered them to produce, destroying a file on Pierre Trudeau that was about to fall into public hands, engaging in illegal data collection and retention, and is generally known as a cesspool of racism, sexism and other forms of bigotry. Most recently they have even been implicated in a case of child trafficking involving three girls, two of whom are now dead. The third is being held in a Syrian rape camp and her three children (ostensibly all from rape) are also now all dead.
Even though CSIS’s own terrorist reporting system provides no indication that cryptocurrencies are being used by terrorists, which is confirmed by a 33-year CIA veteran’s detailed analysis as well as my own ATIP requests on that matter, the people at CSIS, OSC, and other agencies within the Canadian government still proceed under the assumption that cryptocurrency developers are de-facto criminals who must be stopped at all costs. They would love nothing more than for you to believe it is something put forth only by misfits and miscreants. My own resume says differently.
I believe CSIS intended to turn Equibit Group into another debacle used to scare the public away from cryptocurrencies – something they are terrified of. The intelligence community is heavily reliant on financial surveillance and, in return for government protection of the industry (cartelization, bailouts, and direct subsidies), requires financial institutions to act essentially as an arm of the government in data collection, enforcement, and suppression.
The acts described above are the subject of two active lawsuits, together covering over $140 million in damages, which have been filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice (File #: CV-20-00645492-0000 and CV-21-00654929-0000). One of the key defendants, former Equibit employee Christian Saucier, is still at large and we have been unable to locate him even after employing the services of professional investigators. The investigators are unanimously of the opinion that he is being concealed by powerful interests.
Despite my best efforts to get ANY attention on these events, all media and political actors have consistently refused to look at anything related to this case. For example, Pierre Poilievre recently expressed views that he was favorable towards the cryptocurrency industry, claiming he wants to make Canada the “blockchain capital of the world”. This is a lie. Pierre’s office is aware of my situation and has told me in writing that they will say nothing and do nothing. Equibit could have been one of the premier blockchain companies in Canada, even the world. But Pierre and other establishment fixtures will do nothing for us – nor, ultimately, for anyone else in our industry. It is up to us alone to ensure the rest of the world knows what happened, what is happening, and what will continue to happen if we don’t make a change.
In the past I had been interviewed and published by leading media outlets, including American Banker, CBC, BNN, Bloomberg, Forbes, and The Globe and Mail, and had spoken before large audiences at countless prominent industry events since 2014. Now no one wants to hear this story, my story. Remember the immortal words of Desmond Tutu,
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
During the darkest moments of this whole experience, I was blessed with two amazing children. I had expected to raise them in a world made better by blockchain, cryptocurrency, and Equibit. Instead I have been given the challenge of explaining to them just what kind of world they actually live in and I can only hope they will have the strength to make it in such an environment. I wish I could tell them to follow their dreams, and that with hard work they will be free to make a lasting contribution to humanity – but look where that got Equibit and all the people who believed in our vision of the future. We live in a world where the successful “innovators” of our time are only in those positions because they were placed there by even more powerful interests who don’t want their boat rocked. Anyone building things that can truly upset the status quo are quickly eliminated, their stories buried, and the world goes on never knowing what could have been.
So I’m asking for your help. Please, forward this story to your email lists. Post it to your forums and blogs. Write about it. If you know where Christian Saucier is, tell me. I am giving this information away freely and if you think you can help, write to me (PGP). If you are in a similar situation, let’s join forces. Make it impossible for the world to ignore what the Trudeau regime and the disgusting Western espionage alliance (Five Eyes) are doing to activists, entrepreneurs, and innovators the world over.
* * *
Update 09/01/2022 – Last night, without any warning, Telegram deleted the account and banned the phone number that I had been using to distribute this story for the last few days. The account was registered using a phone number that was not tied to my identity (it was a friend’s number), meaning it was the information itself that prompted the account deletion.