Universal Currency is broken. UC is a mis-managed currency totally out of kilter with high aged debt, substantial [off-balance] deficit spending by IRTA (the Administrator) and others in its ‘cosy loop’, and extreme nepotism where a large portion of trade debt is from IRTA Board Members themselves. Deception and misconduct is widespread and [unsurprisingly] Bartercard is in the thick of the fraud. The Administrator House account deficit is 10x IRTA’s own guidelines for deficit spending. An urgent audit and criminal charges should probably follow. In this post I spill the beans about what is going wrong at UC HQ. It’s a little scary and not pretty reading, I’m sorry!
IRTA owns a clearing system (a currency) that is called Universal Currency. UC permits members of IRTA to trade amongst themselves, clearing debits and credits as their Trade Exchange. Members are primarily Trade Exchanges who inter-trade amongst themselves. Retail members do not have accounts per se.
Universal Currency operates under very clear ByLaws that determine the Administrator’s conduct. Office Holders of IRTA are required to comply with those By-Laws and failure to comply is a criminal offence. This is a serious situation. Office holders who have broken the By-Laws in any way could face criminal proceedings. Analysing the actual figures (visible by any Member) shows that IRTA, as Administrator of Universal Currency has clearly betrayed the trust of its Members and broken the By-Laws under which it operates many times over a long period.
For the record . . . IRTA gave me an account in order to pay me using Universal Currency (their preferred method of payment). I was happy with this arrangement.
My access to the Universal Currency platform commenced on 26 March 2014 when my personal account was opened. In 28 March 2014 Ron Whitney (Executive Director of IRTA) transferred $1,500.00 and then another $2,500.00 USD (when I complained that he had short-changed me and renegged on our deal) into my newly opened account for purchase of The Ormita Reports issued to their members. About two weeks later I asked for and received login details and accessed the system – once. As an authorisaed user, I was able to access all Members’ balances, analyse trading patterns, view statistics, reports and assess the entire UC operations. I looked around a bit, formed a few opinions and then never again logged into the system even though I was entitled to. I simply did not want to be ‘anywhere near’ the UC operations when I commenced blogging about my concerns, which I started four months later.
On 29 July 2014 following my written request and subsequent follow-ups, IRTA transferred my entire UC balance out to another participating Trade Exchange and my account was closed on the same day: 29 July 2014.
At no stage did I, or anyone known to me or employed by me access any information, system or process that I was not authorised by my login and password (as issued by IRTA) during the short period of my open account. I have since been offered direct access to the Universal Currency system using others’ login and password and have always [and will always] politely declined although I appreciate that people would trust me enough to offer me their ‘keys to the system’. All the information I have used to form my opinions is readily available to all IRTA/UC members too, although it is clear that some of this may not now be available as I saw it in April!*
I am a long-term computer programmer (more than 30 years) with an interest in computerised accounting and I guess you could say I’m not stupid. I commenced programming before the days of hard drives (We used a C60 audio cassette to record and save our code) and I’ve moved through various systems and languages including many Microsoft, Delphi/Borland and in the last decade or so Open Source languages, mainly PHP. I was a fulltime web developer from 1999-2006 with a major business (Go Kiwi Internet) under my belt when I esesntially retired and established the Web Developers Association of New Zealand. I was one of the leading pioneers of computerised accounting software in my country, importing and selling the UK written General Ledger Accounting Software – SNiP Integrated Accounting – in 1989, the days of 286 computers. I then developed my own accounting software and over a decade sold and supported what we marketed as New Zaland’s easiiest to use Accounting Software – KIWI ACCOUNTS. We had in excess of 500 users a decade later at the time that I moved into web development in 1997. I have actively traded within all the barter systems in New Zealand for three decades using Green Dollars, BBX, Ozone, Tradecard and right through to Bartercard.
I say all this not to show off (although I am proud of my achievements) but rather so that people who don’t know me can get the feeling that I am confident on computers, accounting software, the barter industry and the Internet.
Furthermore I had just come off a massive, detailed, private investigation into conman Daniel Evans’ Ormita fraud, in which I had to work with forensic accountants to simplify complex financial transactions just to understand what he was up to. With that experience fresh in my mind, it didn’t take me long to establish that more questions should be asked about the operations of Universal Currency.
Clues to Problems
Crimes of passion come out of the blue and are hard to predict. They require specific hard evidence to prove.
The problems at Universal Currency however, are not like that. They are more like a gradual slide into the murky areas of ethics as, over time, self-interest seems to have mixed with opportunism. In the end, the Administrator’s conduct seems to me to have moved from a little opportunistic perhaps just ignoring a few of the rules, to blantant gaming of the system with extreme nepotism and then crossing the line to blatant deception and outright fraud.
With UC, there are lots of little clues that something is not right, not so much one biggie, although there are some whoppers in the UC operations I can assure you!
I’ve called it outright fraud based on the figures, but only a full audit will surely prove this. I CAN however prove intent to deceive and I CAN prove conduct that is prejudicial to the best interests of the Members. In my next post I share those figures with my commentary.
Do it Yourself
IRTA Members can investigate for themselves and validate everything the same way that I have.
When I had access, Nordic Barter was in the system (it’s now gone from the data I got but it’s one that I checked out). Nordic Barter appears to have been a business that had its heyday in the early 2000s. You can see their historical web presence at The Wayback Machine – search for www.nordicbarter.com. They appear to have been offline for the last few years at least, yet Universal Currency had sales on an outstanding balance. This is incompetence at best and probably deliberately inflating the sales figures.
The validating principal though is the same . . . assume nothing and just find a member. Look at their balance. Look at their history. Research the Internet to see if they are a genuine business still trading and voila – there you have the OTHER SIDE to the fantastic sales and turnover that IRTA is proclaiming in its puff-pieces.
One account I was particularly interested in was that of Pittsburgh Trade Alliance, as this was the Co-Founder of Ormita with conman Daniel Evans. His deficit was (and is still) rather large, behind Bartercard and one of the senior office holders on the Board. This is toxic debt that will devalue the currency. Any bank that would permit this account conduct would be broke overnight.
UC has misrepresented its true turnover with more than once instance of deception. That, I know. The Executive’s control over finances, UC and IRTA information and their extra-ordinary defence of actions hidden to the IRTA Members gives me grave concerns for the health of the Universal Currency.
I believe that Universal Currency needs serious questions asked of it and as Richard Logie said in my recently published interview with him, a full audit is the right thing to do. That though, should be only just the start.
General areas of concern are:
- Oversight – who is monitoring UC? Who is accountable for UC? Why has there never been an audit? Quo bono? Who stands to benefit the most from inflated figures and backdoor deals?
- Operations – to what extent is the operations of the currency transparent, and to what extent has self-interest impinged upon good ethics. Why are there accounts hidden? What happened to the missing Bartercard account and when and why was it hidden? Who are the recipients of funds within the many accounts under IRTA’s own name? Why are they there?
- Health of the Currency – undisclosed bad debt, double reporting of turnover, a currency imbalance (that indicates off-balance figures), stagnant deficits, owner/adminstrator gaming of the system all paint a sorry picture.
Specific areas of concern are:
- Compliance – IRTA has failed to comply with it’s own By-Laws. This is a criminal act on the part of those entrusted to administer the system. I go into specifics in my next post.
- Personal gain – eight of the current IRTA Board Members have gamed the system at the expense of the other UC participants. This is immoral and if it has been done with undeclared conflict of interest OR if it has been done in violation of the IRTA By-Laws then they are exposed legally – let alone those pesky moral issues.
- Conflicts of Interest – Bartercard has a VERY ‘cosy’ relationship with IRTA with the secret deal with IRTA that I recently highlighted. As the biggest debtor within the UC system AND off-balance [hidden] debt what is REALLY going on inside the IRTA Executive’s offices?
The problem that IRTA Members (the ultimate owners of Universal Currency) have is that the foxes are guarding the hen-house and it’s not in their interest to investigate the loss of any chickens. If eight of the IRTA Board Members have trade deficits that do not comply with IRTA’s own By-Laws (deficits MUST be cleared at least once a year) then the bulk of the IRTA Board have conflicts of interest when determining any investigation.
Demanding justice from what I’ve previously called a divided and ineffective Board (and now a Board shown to have many with their fingers in the till) is pretty unrealistic.
IRTA Members should conduct a full and open audit of not only the UC Currency, but also the entire operations from Board level through the Administration right down to individual account level.
I am of the opinion that ‘heads should roll’ but knowing the history of politics and apathy within the industry, I cannot see a positive resolution occuring, certainly in the immediate future. In the meantime then, the currency will continue to inflate. UC Members who continue to receive Trade Credits will see their assests devalue as the Universal Currency continues with bad debt, nepotism and outright fraud under the current Administration.
Interested IRTA/UC Members should be asking their IRTA Board Members the questions:
- Do you or any entity associated with you have a UC Account?
- If so, what is the balance?
- If it is in debt, have you complied with IRTA By-Laws and cleared that debt at least once a year?
- How did you obtain your Overdraft Facility? Did you complete a Personal Guarantee as required?
- Have you ever declared any loans/debt as a potential conflict of interest?
- Were any debts/loans/overdraft facilities issued in the proper manner according to the By-Laws?
As I read things from their own figures, IRTA, specifically the IRTA Executive and Board Members are currently highly exposed. When you look at the actual figures, some of them have been well and truly caught with their pants down.
UC is a broken currency, essentially worthless through extreme inflation, except for the spin of the Administrator (IRTA) and hiding of the true situation, a practice well known in the industry but totally immoral, and in the case of Universal Currency – illegal. The IRTA Executive, in the last half a dozen years or so has steady milked the currency for their own benefit, and mismanaged it to bankruptcy.
In my next post I drill into the actual figures, analysing IRTA Board Member conflicts of interest, their trading patterns and how they game and bleed the system. I show screenshots of specific statistics of the currency that indicate it’s mismanagement, it’s bankruptcy, and how the Administrator (IRTA) has performed a plethora of immoral and illegal acts over the last few years. I pass judgement on the true state of the currency based on their own figures. Standby, for I now have the evidence and I will be sharing it – in full.
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