Ok, so I subjected you all to a play by play of my alley security camera, so I thought I'd make up for it with a true-life story that has it all: high-tech hucksters, disgraced international bankers, IP theft, lawsuits, and Russian oligarchs...and then a special mystery guest at the end. Some of you might notice a lot of parallels between the start of this tale an a certain HBO tech-centered comedy. I'm not entirely certain how many of them are intentional.
To start the story, we'll begin with a company called "Terrallience Technologies." It was the brainchild of an electrical engineer, Erlend Olson, who decided that he could completely replace all of geophysics within the Oil and Gas industry with a big computer and goofy ideas, which included, for reasons I can not begin to fathom, purchasing decomishioned Russian MIGs. Erlend was horrible at finding oil, but he was exceptionally good at duping investors and then spending the money as fast as he raised it.
He also was...well...https://archive.fortune.com/2010/03/26/news/companies/terralliance_tech_full.fortune/index.htm
A hulking figure with a glassy-eyed intensity, Olson had assured his investors that an infusion of this magnitude could lead quickly to a public offering worth as much as $60 billion. That would make Olson, as he wistfully recalled later, a "three-comma guy."
You get the idea. Terrallience is a tale all to itself. But, it went bankrupt when oil cratered in the great recession. Years later, after the MIG was sold off, a new and different con man decided to purcahse what was left of the renamed company that emerged after bankruptcy. Enter Jonathan Faiman. https://www.ft.com/content/1b8b7fe6-525e-11e6-9664-e0bdc13c3bef
As one of the founders of Ocado, the UK online grocery retailer and, before that, head of emerging market bond trading at Goldman Sachs, Mr Faiman, 47, makes an unlikely oilman. But the leap from online retailing to oil exploration is not as great as it might seem. Neos does not — yet — produce oil, but collects and analyses geological data for resource-holding countries and companies, to help them decide where they should drill and what they can expect to find when they do.
Spoiler alert: NEOS never produced oil.
In 2015, I had been working for a geophysical company that was largely legit. Its only executive indiscretions were that multiple officers were stealing each other's wives and then leaving to work for rival companies, but everyday operations were largely tame. When oil started tanking, the company decided to close down my office and layoff everyone working there. Then, being business geniuses (and because some local office managers pooled together and offered to buy some of the IP associated with the office) they realized "oh, yeah, without corporate overhead, these guys actually had value. Maybe we should try and sell them?" So Faiman and NEOS up there bought my office in the hopes of making the rest of his company look a little more legitimate and maybe synergy and whatever bs. My boss got to meet Faiman after the purchase. He even invited her onto his yacht, and once there he laid out his plans to disrupt and dominate the oil industry. She told me he seemed a bit shady and maybe semi-delusional, but hey, we were just happy to have the office still exist.
It only took a year before things started to get weird. Paychecks were sometimes a few days late. Once they were actually 2 entire weeks late. The CFO explained something about Yemeni bonds and made promises of checks being in the mail. Eventually, the money did show up. As this was going on, I got pulled into this project that involved a very, very, very deep oil resevoir in Kazahkstan. The resevoir was deeper than the seismic data I had to work with was really designed to image, and all of the hand-waiving involved from the legacy Terrallience portion of the company seemed...iffy to me. But we mysteriously had the support of a company called Rosnoft, who was really keen to produce this new oil field for the Kazahks, and some fertilizer company I'd never heard of named "EuroChem" who wanted the natural gas byproducts. But then another paycheck came and went with no money. Well, the next one was promised to be a double paycheck. That date also came and went. The CEO called a meeting. He basically told us that we need to view the company as a "start-up" and that money might be hard to come by. "Anyone that isn't onboard with that...well, there's the door!" 6 weeks after the first missed payment, we started getting some money. I also started interviewing for different jobs. A few months later I got laid off along with over half of the office. My boss resigned at the same time. A few of my friends still remained, and had a doozy of a story to tell about the holiday party. About 30 minutes into the gathering, the highest-ranking remaining employee announced that all spouses and significant others had to leave and all the wine bottles were corked. They then laid off half of the party attendees right then and there.
I hadn't given much thought to NEOS over the past 3 years, at least, until the Hunter Biden/Rosneft story broke, and I thought to myself "huh, weird." But then I decided to see what Faiman was up to. https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2019/09/23/ocado-sues-its-own-co-founder-in-bitter-legal-dispute-worth-hundreds-of-millions/
Huh, well that sounds bad. I decided to see how that lawsuit was going today, and ran into this:https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/pungent-delivery-for-ocado-founder-5p3wt9chg
Hmm. I wonder if he still has that yacht.Yacht for sale!
That's a shame. But then I just do a google search for "Faiman Akula" (the name of the yacht) and I come across this:https://www.reddit.com/r/Epstein/comments/eou8se/martha_stewart_kira_faiman_and_ghislaine_maxwell/
Sure enough, that's his wife. Some more googling reveals why that link showed up in the first google search at all:https://www.theaustralian.com.au/weekend-australian-magazine/family-values-how-ghislaine-maxwell-fell-under-jeffrey-epsteins-spell/news-story/0283b9a69e6c26bfaa606bf88bd6630b
The last time I saw Ghislaine was on holiday in 2012. I heard her shouting my name from across the street. “What are you doing tonight?” she asked. “Come to dinner on Akula.” The 60m superyacht she was staying on belonged to Jonathan Faiman, co-founder of the online supermarket Ocado, and his wife Kira (a couple about whom no suggestion of wrongdoing is made). There was a mildly uncomfortable atmosphere all evening: she had invited her friends, but the hosts knew none of us. It was typical Ghislaine.
TL:DR - I worked for a banking conman who may or may not be laundering for/bilking Russian oligarchs, and seems to have been involved with the Epstein stuff.