The miracle medicines of a playboy dealer and his crypto banker pal

Keep in mind Aziz McMahon? He’s the man who quit Goldman Sachs in Might 2021 after reportedly changing into a dogecoin millionaire.

McMahon was broadly reported to have banked at the very least £10mn having gambled on tokens together with ether and dogecoin. The discuss when he left Goldman was that McMahon can be establishing a hedge fund. As an alternative, he’s in partnership with Damien Hancox, whose enterprise historical past isn’t any much less unbelievable.

McMahon and Hancox are chair and chief govt respectively of SpectrumX. The UK biotechnology group, which claims to have rights to “one of many most revolutionary treatments for the reason that discovery of penicillin”, is hoping to drift on the London Inventory Alternate’s predominant market at a worth of roughly £50mn.

Its product is hypochlorous acid, or HPCL, a natural biocide first found within the early 1800s. SpectrumX was based within the first few months of the pandemic to use UK and European advertising rights to a stabilised type of HPCL developed by a California-based entrepreneur, Hoji Alimi, and his privately owned firm Spectrum Antimicrobials Inc (SAI).

“Having by no means heard about HPCL earlier than I discovered it, it was virtually too good to be true,” Hancox advised FT Alphaville. “I believe it might kill each virus, each micro organism recognized to man.”

Hancox first met Alimi in early 2020. Their matchmaker was an outdated acquaintance of Hancox’s, Oliver Morley. An industrial property developer and motorsport fanatic, Morley is probably greatest recognized for dropping a 2019 lawsuit in opposition to Royal Financial institution of Scotland over a £75mn mortgage that he spent partly on vehicles, a yacht and a jet.

Morley and Hancox based SpectrumX in July 2020 with possession break up 50-50. A couple of months later the corporate was lobbying the UK authorities (unsuccessfully) to approve SpectriPOD, a walk-in disinfectant tunnel made out of a delivery container, as a option to make crowd occasions Covid secure.

In a number of methods, Hancox will not be a typical listed firm CEO. His earlier brush with media fame was when a five-month marriage to mannequin Marilyn Levesque ended with a notoriously expensive and acrimonious Excessive Courtroom case.

In 2007 Hancox declared himself bankrupt following a authorized run-in with celeb builders Nick and Christian Sweet over missed funds for property of their Manresa Highway improvement in Chelsea. Hancox, who on the time was dwelling in Monaco, stated that within the years earlier than the 2008 home worth crash he was “concerned fairly closely” within the Sweet brothers’ London residential developments.

For a potential publicly owned firm, SpectrumX additionally has some uncommon facets. Staff embody Susy Castro, a social media influencer. Castro has been communications director since February 2020 in line with her LinkedIn profile and, primarily based on their Instagram profiles, seems to have grow to be Hancox’s girlfriend at around the same date.

Hancox himself retains a decrease media profile. His LinkedIn page and biography on the SpectrumX website say nothing by any means about pre-pandemic enterprise pursuits. Press stories on his 2013 divorce seek advice from Hancox solely as commodities dealer.

Hancox defined that between 2017 and 2020 he ran a Hong Kong-registered brokerage that purchased gold doré from Ghana and offered it to Dubai, largely to a refinery owned by the infamous Kaloti group.

For a number of years after his 2013 divorce, Hancox was “taking a little bit of day off”. Beforehand, certainly one of his investments went bitter in a suspected missing trader tax fraud.

Hancox appears to see himself as a sufferer of the scheme, saying that in 2004 or 2005 he had taken board roles within the Greystone and Evolution community of corporations and invested “fairly closely” on the invitation of a pal. He had been unaware of the scenario till lately and his “funding was additionally by no means returned”, he stated.

Corporations Home filings record Hancox as a founder director of UK-registered Greystone UK Trading Limited and Greystone Export Trading Limited. Each corporations had their predominant accounts at First Curacao Worldwide Financial institution, which Dutch authorities shut down in 2006 on suspicions that it was operating companies for Missing Trader Intra-Community (MTIC) fraud networks.

Greystone UK Buying and selling started a decade-long obligatory liquidation course of in 2012 and Greystone Export Buying and selling was dissolved final August, having been put into liquidation in 2010. Grant Thornton, liquidator to Greystone UK Buying and selling, stated in its insolvency report of 2013 that “it seems the Firm was concerned in lacking dealer intra group VAT fraud.Its remaining winding up notice in September 2021 stated some debtor corporations had been concerned in MTIC fraud on a “massive scale”.

Evolution Export Trading Limited, one other of Hancox’s directorships, was liquidated in 2010. He was named in a 2005 High Court judgment associated to the commerce of Nokia handsets by Dubai.

Requested about MITC fraud, Hancox stated he was consulting his lawyer having solely discovered in November that one of many corporations, Greystone UK Buying and selling, was nonetheless lively. He referred to as the allegations “all kinds of form of nonsense”, including: “so far as I’m conscious, nothing ever nothing ever got here of that scenario”.

The newest enterprise has additionally endured some problems. McMahon agreed to grow to be SpectrumX chair last September, having purchased a 15 per cent stake within the autumn of 2020 whereas nonetheless at Goldman. Hancox and McMahon then fell out with Morley and put SpectrumX into administration.

Based on the administrator’s report of January 2021, SpectrumX administration wished an IPO to clear its greater than £8.5mn in convertible mortgage notes that will convert at a reduction to the float admission worth. Disagreements with Morley stalled the method and the 2 administrators determined there was not sufficient money left to finish product trials. That they had burnt by greater than £4mn of pre-float funding, leaving simply over £2.3mn within the financial institution.

At first the directors tried to discover a third celebration that may purchase the enterprise, however deserted the plan after US companion SAI threatened to tug all its licences on the idea that any sale would jeopardise commerce secrets and techniques. As an alternative, the administrator agreed for the administrators to retain management whereas squeezing Morley out. All SpectrumX property had been transferred into a new shell company owned two-thirds by Hancox and one-third by McMahon. (Castro, Hancox’s Instagram pal, witnessed the registration of charge paperwork.)

Morley declined to remark for this text.

Since its reformation SpectrumX has launched its first product, a non-alcohol sanitising mist. It’s being manufactured and offered by Matthew Moulding’s THG, whose international headquarters is ten miles north-east of SpectrumX’s base within the Cheshire city of Knutsford.

A probably larger alternative is prescribed drugs: a pre-IPO funding deck nonetheless accessible on the SpectrumX website says the corporate “holds licenses for each the UK and EU pharmaceutical utility of [SAI’s] novel technologies”. The deck and the company website element ongoing medical trials of a nebuliser gadget meant to deal with sufferers with respiratory points together with Covid.

Oddly, nonetheless, the SpectrumX administrator’s report cites SAI as “confirming that they’d not proceed with the pending licence” for a nebuliser utilizing its expertise. Dropping the pharma licence may restrict SpectrumX handy gels and detox tunnels.

Requested in regards to the obvious disparity between filings, Hancox stated the brand new automobile held all the identical licences and mental property because the liquidated one. SAI co-founder Invoice Watson stated that following a loss of life within the household he was not capable of remark.

One other peculiarity is across the position of Charles Chetwynd-Talbot, the twenty second Earl of Shrewsbury. Cached copies of the SpectrumX web site from 2021 record the Conservative peer as a company advisor, although his identify is absent from the current roll call. The Home of Lords register of members’ interests says his involvement with SpectrumX ceased in January 2022.

In July and October of 2021, Shrewsbury lodged written questions within the Home of Lords about authorities steering round the usage of non-alcohol sanitisers, and in October 2020 submitted two questions on tunnel disinfection techniques as a option to fight Covid.

The Home of Lords requirements commissioners final week launched an investigation into Shrewsbury for allegedly breaching guidelines in opposition to friends profiting financially from their membership. What the alleged misconduct pertains to has not been disclosed. Shrewsbury advised The Guardian that for authorized causes he was unable to touch upon the investigation.

SpectrumX and its company adviser Alfred Henry have been aiming for an IPO within the present half, having missed an earlier deadline of finish 2021. Hancox stated the corporate had entered the final phases of back-and-forth with the FCA to get the float prospectus signed off, after which it might apply for an inventory date. “So yeah, I’d say positively inside 2021,” Hancox stated, which means 2022.

If solely there have been a 100 per cent efficient disinfectant for company histories.


https://www.ft.com/content material/8a928074-c415-44d6-904b-9357b759b3ea