The German investor, philanthropist and FinTech entrepreneur Michael Gastauer is certainly not a humble person. On the contrary! He is a man of superlatives in every respect. As was the famous (fictitious) Baron Münchhausen, Gastauer is also known as the German “Baron of lies”. We are not claiming now that Gastauer would definitely be a “lie baron” but there are indications that could lead to this conclusion. Here is his story.
Gastauer and the WB21 Group
At the same time, WB21 Group also facilitated a US securities fraud scheme. The US regulator SEC has filed a lawsuit in 2018 against the British stockbroker Roger Knox and Michael Gastauer and his WB21 Group. According to the SEC Complaint, Roger Knox is said to have committed securities fraud on a large scale and Gastauer is said to have supported and/or facilitated the fraud scheme with his WB21 Group. Among other charges, the illicit proceeds from the securities fraud are said to have been laundered through the WB21 Group. The SEC estimates the fraud at $165 million. Impressive, right? More about it here on FinTelegram. All allegations are denied by Gastauer.
So the WB21 brand was rather burned in early 2019. Therefore, Gastauer probably decided in March 2019 to rename (“evolve”) WB21 to Black Banx and to give it a crypto touch (press release here). Black Banx actually seems to be a very suitable name for the venture’s real business. The company, which although WB21 has always claimed to be a “WebBank”, has not yet been granted a banking license in any regulatory regime. This does not prevent Gastauer as CEO and founder of Black Banx (formerly WB21 Group) from always talking about “his bank”. Since Donald Trump, we know that there are alternative facts!
Black Banx – the world’s largest FinTech start-up
Black Banx continues Gastauer’s path of superlative fiction undisturbed. On its website (www.blackbanx.co) as well as in press releases, it claims to have more than 8 million customers and processes a monthly payment volume of $10 billion. This would make it the fastest-growing FinTech on this planet. Even before the real superstars like Revolut, Monzo or N21. For the sake of reality, it should be noted that Revolut actually has about 8 million customers and is therefore probably the FinTech market leader in Europe. Most recently Revolut was valued at $5 billion in a capital increase. Hundreds of millions of funds were injected into the company by well-known investors for growth.
Black Banx Group is ranked among the fastest growing companies, reaching a US$ 9.8 trillion valuation in less than four years.Self-proclaimed FinTech Guru Michael Gastauer
That said, Gastauer and his Black Banx claim to be as big or even bigger than Revolut without any evidence. It takes a lot of courage or audacity backed by brazen stupidity.
Self-proclaimed Investment Mogul and FinTech Guru
On his personal website www.michaelgastauer.com the German claims to have $10 billion in assets under management through his Swiss family office (Asset Under Management – AUM). No details are given. The website shows the covers of magazines where Gastauer is called a “Mogul” or “FinTech Guru”. Asking the magazines, they tell you that this were actually paid stories (commercials) like Cryptoqueen Ruja Ignatova ordered in Forbes.
It could be that Michael Gastauer is building this Potemkin FinTech village knowingly and very purposefully in order to put himself in the service of money-laundering. This hypothesis actually is supported by the SEC Complaint. In this Complaint, the SEC explains in detail how Gastauer systematically lied to banks when opening accounts and making payments. The money flowing through these accounts was from his investments, Gastauer falsely purported. In fact, they were illegal proceeds of Robert Knox‘s securities fraud scheme. The same might have been true of the money laundering around OneCoin. In this respect, in the strange world of Michael Gastauer, it might make sense to present himself as a mogul and investment superstar. This would be a cover for illegal funds.
But, on the other hand, maybe Gastauer’s fictional world of superlatives is just the product of his psychological disposition? Who knows?