By Tom Winnifrith, The Sheriff of AIM | Friday 7 May 2021
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from ShareProphets). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
Graham Wood is the most enthusiastic shareholder in the con that is Versarien (VRS). He does not like me because I point out the lies the company told and so has discussed having me killed and was on the private chatroom which discussed how my (then pregnant) wife could be harassed at work so that she was fired. Now thanks to Neill Ricketts trying to gag a Bulletin Board critic with fascist lawyers letters, we may find out whether Wood rides solo or if he is rather more connected to Versarien than folks think.
We know – because he told us himself, in emails and posts to group chats - that in 2017 Graham Wood was leaking price sensitive information he had gathered from within Versarien. He ‘popped in’ to the company’s offices, seemingly at will, earwigged on phone calls, and saw sensitive information about who the company was (allegedly) talking to – all of which he immediately relayed to selected lucky recipients.
What we don’t know – yet – is whether he was acting entirely on his own volition, or whether he was acting as part of a conspiracy, with one or more Versarien company officers or employees, to commit market abuse and artificially ramp the Versarien share price, something that allowed boss Neill Ricketts to dump vast numbers of shares at inflated prices and the company to issue millions of shares, also at inflated prices, just to keep the lights on.
The picture should become clearer as the libel case brought by the loathsome Ricketts against his Bulletin Board critic Ian Westbrook moves forward towards trial: the defence will be seeking, as part of the discovery process, to force Versarien to hand over all correspondence between Wood and Versarien officers and employees. That should help to establish how he obtained information and misinformation he leaked onto Bulletin Boards on an industrial scale.
There is, however, very strong circumstantial evidence for believing that Wood didn’t stop this behaviour in 2017. There is, as yet, no email evidence, but his posts on the ADVFN website, particularly on the ‘VRS The world lead in real Graphene (Nanene)’ bulletin board (which Wood started and which he rules with a fist of iron, banning anyone who dares to dissent or engage with the ‘enemy’), suggest that he was still trying to keep the stock ramp going nearly two years later.
This, for example, is from a post he made on 20th Feb 2019 (post 60850 on that board):
”the coming news is substantial and beyond what anyone here thinks. It’s building like a pressure pot and I’ll be around to see how far away the lid lands when all the contracts start to drop into place”
What coming news? What grounds does Wood have for believing that news is imminent?
Or this, on the same day (post 60863):
“Then we have Gnano which I understand is due to launch a product (surely battery related) this year.”
Understand? Understand from who?
It hardly needs saying, of course, that there have been no contracts since these posts were made, no world-changing product launches from Gnanomat. Apart from MediaDevil earbuds bought by almost nobody and graphene-enhanced face nappies (which may or may not give wearers cancer), Versarien is as far away from commercialising graphene as ever.
Wood is utterly relentless in his ramping. In the period I looked at for this piece – Jan-Mar 2019 – the longest string of posts I found was five consecutive posts, an insane stream-of-consciousness rampathon. That may not be a record.
The next day, 21st Feb, Wood is still at it (post 60689):
“I strongly suspect the project on the way re VRS is worth multi millions too (to VRS) I saw a web piece the other day re when will VRS hit a meaningful contract, 5 months, 5 years?. In reality they needed to add 5 weeks to that list imo.”
Five weeks! I know that time is relative and all, but by the Gregorian calendar that post was made 26 or so months ago, and guess what? Still no deals!
Or this, the same day (post 61094):
“Well I wondered who the 5 are and now I can work out where to look I was up to 3, one of which was China, 2 are China it seems and I’ve heard mutterings of something huge in South Korea but I have no idea with who or what it is (yet). Could be the wrong track for the 5th one but that’s the best yet. Could be Gnano of course who have something up their sleeve for this year.”
Mutterings? Mutterings from who? And again the ramp that Gnanomat ‘have something up their sleeve’ for 2019. They did not.
As before, the questions is: is Wood inventing all of this in his, obviously unbalanced, mind, or is he acting (whether he knows it or not) as a conduit to drop hints in public to keep the share price artificially high?
Until his emails and group chats were exposed, I assumed it was the former, that he was ramping on his own account. But now I don’t think it’s unreasonable to wonder whether the source for all these nudges and winks might not have been inside the company.
Posts like this support that view (post 62771, on 6th March 2019):
“It won’t take 5 years. I don’t think I’m out of line with VRS if I suggest pending deals this year individually could exceed total current revenue.”
How can he know whether he’s out of line with VRS unless he knows what the company is thinking or planning? And how would he know that?
Or this, the same day in post 62794:
“Forget the 3 tonnes, that doesn’t get them on the first step. VRS only expand when the demand is there or contracts signed. EG ink recently went from 1 litre per day to 60. As Prof Ferrari said at the investor day, “For a modest investment we can do 100,000 litres per year”. The big 5 which is all about near term will be far more than current capacities.”
Whatever happened to graphene ink?
And as for Versarien only expanding when the demand is there – well, we know how that worked out…
It is true of course that none of this is quite as damning as the emails published a few weeks ago. No mention by name of companies Versarien was talking to. No clear inferences of being an insider. But it is all very suggestive.
Very suggestive: and we know – because once again Graham Wood tells us – that he is still in regular contact with Versarien officers.
This from 11th March 2019 at 9.49am (post: 63258):
“Busy day ahead. I may be seeing some of the VRS team later.”
Then this, from 7.45pm the same day (post 63311):
“Ceo and CFO here”
Or this, from the following day at 8.07am (post 63339):
“After the lunch posts I’m sure some felt that the indicators were that first orders would be small then grow. That is completely FALSE information. The VRS team mentioned it last night not me.”
So the idea that all these hints, nudges and winks originated from inside the company really isn’t that far-fetched after all is it?
I’m sure this will all become clear when first Wood and then Ricketts are rigorously examined on the witness stand if loathsome Neill goes ahead and sues Mr Westbrook for libel as he has threatened.
Finally, there is one related question raised by all of this. What was loathsome Neill Ricketts doing even dealing with someone like Graham Wood in the first place?
Consider this, from post 63192 on 10th March 2019:
“I haven’t had time to catch up and going on about the retweet by NR (life is too short). I too learned something last night that will dominate my thoughts for some time so will be distracted and not too interested in going through dozens of posts. Not affecting me directly but folks near me and it’s the worst type that we all detest with a passion and would kill for.”
If someone wants to make anything personal then please feel free to do so but then be prepared to accept the consequences on a level you can not begin to comprehend.”
Or this, later the same day (post 63233):
“Death isn’t enough for them, that’s a cop out. First they need the humuliation and hate poured on them by all, destruction of their lives, the truth for all to see, then death.”
Clearly, if talking got the job done then Graham would be one of the most dangerous men on the planet, instead of an embittered, failed copper who never made it above the rank of constable even after many years in the police service and now discusses having journalists killed and is part of a gang that thinks threatening the wife of a critic is fair game.
He has discussed my killing arguing it is a fair way to deal with critics, and has called on his zealots to try and find out where Ian Westbrook, the defendant in the libel suit, works so that they can cause trouble with his employer. Ian’s wife had an email a year or so ago from one of the Versarien uber-bulls, whining about her husband’s activities. These chaps want my blameless wife to lose her job.
Why was Ricketts dealing with such an unstable and worryingly ill individual? At the very least, it suggests a catastrophic failure of judgement. Or perhaps Mr Ricketts knew full well what Wood was – and is an unhinged narcissist full of his own importance – and knew that he could use the dupe to drip-feed information to keep the fan-boys pumping and buying the stock?
We won’t have to wonder about all this forever. Courts decide cases based on facts, and evidence to support those facts. Discovery and then rigorous cross-examination of the key players – on the witness stand, under oath – will reveal the truth. Sunlight is the best disinfectant – unless of course you have something to hide.
And that is why I am praying that Neill Ricketts goes ahead and sues his critic Mr Westbrook for libel. But somehow I think that he will not be that stupid. Ricketts may be a bully and a fibber but he is not quite that stupid.
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