ePayments Systems is one of the UK’s largest digital payments companies.
Well, it was… until the FCA unexpectedly shut it down on February 11th.
Along with the shutdown came a freeze order, trapping what is believed to be over £100 million in client funds.
Oh, and did I mention there’s an extremely interesting tie to OneCoin?
To date both the FCA and ePayments Systems have been coy on the shutdown.
On February 11th ePayments Systems published a “lulz your funds are safe” message to their website.
On the February 11, 2020 ePayments Systems Limited (‘ePayments’) agreed with the Financial Conduct Authority (‘FCA’) to suspend all activity on its customer accounts.
This decision was taken following a review, by the FCA, of ePayments anti-money laundering systems and controls, which identified weakness that required remediation.
We know this will be a very frustrating time for our customers. We apologise for any inconvenience caused and are working tirelessly to ensure improvements are made and accounts can be reactivated as soon as possible.
During this improvement process, we want to assure customers that their funds are being safeguarded as normal.
I’ll give you a moment to recover from the shock of a UK regulator actually regulating.
To the best of my knowledge the FCA itself has yet to issue a public statement. It’s all very secretive but we do know the shutdown is related to money laundering.
The FCA’s directory listing for ePayments Systems says the company must
refrain from providing account information services or payment initiation services for an indefinite period.
The message on ePayments Systems website is supposed to inform its clients it is “no longer conducting business.
The company is also banned from signing up new clients, or doing business with corporations or individuals.
Basically it’s over.
One of ePayments Systems’ Directors is Robert Courtneidge. Or was, following his resignation on February 17th.
According to ePayments Systems’ Companies House data, Courtneidge (right) was appointed in July 2018.
I’ll give you another moment to recover from the shock of a non-fraudulent Companies House incorporation.
When the Financial Times approached Courtneidge for comment, he told them he “was not legally able to comment on the company”.
Prior to being appointed a ePayments Systems Director, Courtneidge was Global Head of Cards and Payments for the law firm Locke Lord.
In January 2018 Courtneidge left Locke Lord to sign on as CEO of Moorwand, another payment processor.
Courtneidge’s appointment as an ePayments Systems Director took place six months later in July.
Locke Lord meanwhile, is the same law firm who in the UK counted OneCoin founder Ruja Ignatova as a client.
Two months before Courtneidge was appointed CEO of Moorwand, Ruja Ignatova disappeared.
She is believed to have escaped with a fortune in laundered OneCoin investor funds.
Part of the fallout of Ignatova’s disappearance recently played out in the US legal system.
In November 2019 Mark Scott was convicted on charges related to the laundering of over €400 million for Ignatova.
That money is still unaccounted for.
Robert Courtneidge worked closely with Mark Scott to launder OneCoin funds.
His name came up frequently during Scott’s trial, as reported by FinTelegram quoting exhibits provided by the Inner City Press;
InnerCityPress (@InnerCityPress on Twitter) has recently published screenshots of emails on Twitter which show that Ruja Ignatova apparently sent her emails regularly to Mark S. Scott and Robert Courtneidge.
Mark S. Scott apparently defends himself to the U.S. prosecutor by claiming that his colleague at Locke Lord, Robert Courtneidge, was also involved in and approved the OneCoin transactions.
In order for Courtneidge to be appointed a non-executive Director of ePayments Systems in January 2018, presumably there had to have been some sort of working relationship.
Did that relationship involve laundering vast amounts of money for Ruja Ignatova, in Courtneidge’s capacity as Locke Lord’s Global Head of Cards and Payments, through ePayments Systems?
And is that behind the FCA now shutting down ePayments Systems indefinitely over money laundering concerns?
Financial Times approached Robert Courtneidge about his connections to OneCoin. he told them he was unable to comment.
Locke Lorde and ePayments Systems both failed to reply to Financial Times’ requests for comment.
In any event, if all of the above checks out, the next point to ponder is whether any of Ignatova’s stolen fortune is still tied up in ePayments Systems.
Or at the very least whether their records can be used to track where Ignatova’s funds went, potentially even leading to the wanted fugitive herself.
Update 15th September 2022 – The FCA freeze remains in place. ePayments meanwhile has announced it is shutting down.