It would be remiss of me to not inform readers of the current situation with few of the Crowdlending Platforms, specifically Envestio and Kuetzal. Unfortunately, both of the platforms look to be in some trouble and are unresponsive for comments. So whats happened?
The problems started with the Kuetzal platform, but were then quick to turn on other platforms including Envestio
How it Started
Following on from the report about Alborg Petrol released by Explore P2P (see here), many investors looked further into the projects issued by Kuetzal. Jørgen from Financially Free did some research and found 8 concerning issues (his report here). This then sent Facebook into a frenzy, and many people contacted every company with any connection with Kuetzal (i.e. borrowers, banks, management, past management). Additionally, the CEO left near the end of 2019 and took some of the staff as well. Following on from the allogations and requests for information, Kuetzal issued a letter to investors saying that the company is going to wind down.
Unfortunately, all investors that have put money into Kuetzal, received a letter announcing a wind-down of processes.
Dear Kuetzal investor,
Our team wants to apologize for delays in payments and replies to e-mails received.
Unfortunately we have to inform that Kuetzal is announcing wind-down, furthermore the company will only process withdrawals of the funds, the company is no longer accepting new project applications, investors registrations and deposits. Company’s reputation was harmed sufficiently for the past weeks, and Kuetzal management does not see a way to recover investor’s activity, therefore we may not return to usual working process. The mission of the company may not be reached anymore.
Due to high number of reports, claims and negative messages SEB Bank and PAPAYA (the only two banks that Kuetzal used) initiated the AML check and has temporarily blocked Kuetzal’s bank accounts. Kuetzal is currently unable to perform any operations for undefined period. Kuetzal management is aiming to reestablish the activity of both operational bank accounts and perform buy-backs and withdrawals in shortest terms respectively.
Kuetzal will keep the investors informed.
We have not been able to make Kuetzal a successful player on crowdfunding market. We will however aim to exit the market quietly with minimum repercussion to our customers and the whole crowdfunding market. The website functions furthermore will be limited, only the user area will be kept. All the user area functions will continue working as before.
In case of technical issues with withdrawals or other question we kindly ask to use our contact mail instead of social networks or cellphone to receive the fastest service.
This is disappointing and also worrying news for current investors who have placed thousands of euros in their care. What will happen to the funds? No-one knows at this point yet. The letter did specify that buy-backs and withdrawals will be performed when possible, but other people have suggested that these may not happen at all. For the moment we will have to wait and see as to how management responds. Here is the information that we were provided in the letter:
- Kuetzal will now only process withdrawals of funds. They will receive no more investors or deposits.
- Kuetzals bank accounts are blocked and are facing AML checks after a high number of claims and reports.
- Kuetzal is unable to perform any actions while the accounts are blocked.
- Kuetzal management is aiming to re-establish the activity of both operational bank accounts and perform buy-backs and withdrawals in shortest terms respectively.
- Kuetzal aim to exit the market quietly with minimum repercussion to our customers and the whole crowdfunding market
An interesting review between Roasted Peer Duck and Explore P2P discusses the possibilities of what will happen next. The interview can be found here.
Envestio was the next to fall. The following statements were released:
Then nothing. Blank empty space. The website went down, social profiles were removed and and all of the mangers have gone into hiding. Now a lot of money is vanished and people are asking lots of questions.
Since then there has only been one message of contact from an unverified “freelancer” that claims to have no connections to the management.
Monethera is the only one on this list that is still active. However, who knows whether they will be involved with the potential issues facing the above companies. Current information suggests that they may.
Investors have done some digging and found that (1) the buyback fund that Monethera use in Hong Kong (RICHLY PACIFIC INTERNATIONAL LIMITED) has dissolved (read the article here), and (2) there is a direct connection between Monethera and Envesio, with a team member from one platform owning a significant share of a sponsor of the other platform.
The next steps
There have been many groups on Facebook being created, aiming to consolodate findings and bring a legal case against Envestio and Kuetzal.
The European Crowdfunding Network (which Kuetzal and Envestio were apart of) has reported both platforms to the National Conduct Authority.
Additionally, it has been suggested that individual investors assess their situation.
For Kuetzal, there is a telegram group here.
These types of things is what makes these platforms “high-risk”. Unfortunately many investors (including myself) have been sucked in to the high interest rates and favorable terms that the companies were offering.
It is a shame that these things happen, but also a necessity for new and reliable projects to be built. Following on from the abundance of reports of Kuetzal and Envestio, the Ministry of Finance will empower the Financial Supervision Authority to start overseeing co-financing platforms, commencing regulation in the sector.
It is currently a free-for-all with investors, bloggers, and other interested parties all having something to say, and someone else to blame. In the end, if we spent all of this time finding out if the projects and platforms were legit, they would have been shut down a long time ago.