“All my money disappeared”: Chequered past of viral video sensation, Alexander Butmanov

This week, an interview with so-called stock market strategist Alexander Butmanov on Russian 24-hour business news channel, RBC, went viral.

As Russian stocks plummeted due to sanctions imposed following the invasion of the Ukraine, Butmanov was asked by RBC anchor, Elina Tikhonova, if stock market strategists had a future in the country.

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Here’s the bizarre exchange that followed.

Butmanov: Ah. Worst case scenario, I’m going to work as Santa Claus as I did 25 years ago.

Tikhonova: But that’s only once a year?

Butmanov: Exclude the jokes. Let’s do this quickly. I send my regards to Sergei Usychenko who drank 12 or 13 years ago to the death of the stock market. Today, I’m drinking carbonated water. Dear stock market, you were close to us, you were interesting. Rest in peace my dear Comrade.

The exchange quickly became a viral sensation. With thousands on Twitter, Reddit and other social media platforms sharing and commenting on the video.

“This should be the new WSB (WallStreetBets) Loss Porn requirement… At the end of every Loss Porn post: I’M GOING TO BECOME SANTA CLAUS,” commented one Redditor on the WallStreetBets subreddit.

You can watch the full interview with English subtitles here.

But who is Alexander Butmanov?

Butmanov has been described as “the founder of a leading algorithmic fund,” by Fourtune, an Economist by Newsweek, and an investment analyst by the New York Times.

He was introduced to the now-famous RBC segment as an economist, the founder of the Allies Investment Group, and a stock market expert. According to Linkedin, he is also the Managing Partner, Founder & CEO DTI Algorithmic.

“We help hedge funds and trading companies close technical tasks. To do this, we understand in detail the client’s business and write software capable of solving and/or automating the tasks. We offer both ready-made products for closing standard tasks and ad hoc development taking into account the specifics of your business,” says the DTI Algorithmic blog.

But dig deeper and you’ll find Butmanov has been involved in questionable cryptocurrency projects, at least one shrouded by allegations of fraud (Asia Markets is not suggesting the Allies group or DTI Algorithmic are involved in any wrongdoing).

“I trusted money to a fund manager, and all my money disappeared”

Former Russian fund manager Vlad Matveev has told of losing around US$250,000 after investing in the failed cryptocurrency hedge fund, Crypto Capital.

Matveev provides a full outline of is experience in this Medium post.

Alexander Butmanov was Crypto Capital’s chief research officer.

“Alex Butmanov presented himself as a seasoned asset manager. He claimed that his firm, DTI Algorithmic, developed algo strategies and managed “more than $100 million” on clients’ accounts at Interactive Brokers. It sounded solid,” said Matveev.

“But several former investors of Butmanov claim that he fraudulently charged clients’ accounts, forged signatures, and was banned at Interactive Brokers. I checked with Interactive Brokers, they vaguely confirmed that by saying ‘you would not be able to appoint Alex Butmanov as a manager now'”.

Court proceedings against Alexander Butmanov

Matveev discovered numerous investment businesses that Butmanov has been involved with (prior to Crypto Capital) have been at the centre of court proceedings.

The following four cases are all linked to Butmanov.

ZAO Forrest House – alleged misappropriation of funds in 2015
NefteTechnologii Ltd – alleged misappropriation of funds in 2016
Virozets – allegedly failed to repay a loan, 2015
Otkritie Broker – allegedly did not repay dividends, 2017

“I know of about 10 investors who think they were defrauded by Butmanov out of millions of US Dollars. Some of them say that there are dozens of victims. Most of them do not want publicity because of the reputation risk,” said Matveev.

“Police can’t investigate the facts of misapplication of funds, not to mention investigating the rouge trades. (The) regulator, the Central Bank of Russia, does not seem to care.”

Butmanov was also reported as being a team member of a cryptocurrency project called GoldMint. The project conducted an initial coin offering in 2017, releasing the ‘MNPT’ token. At the initial coin offering, 1 MNPT token was equal to US$7, according to the project’s white paper.

According to CoinMarketCap data, one MNPT token currently trades at around 15 cents.

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