By Tom Winnifrith, The Sheriff of AIM | Sunday 11 July 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.
We have seen previously, through his emails, group chat posts and postings to ADVFN bulletin boards, how Graham Wood had many deeply “interesting” interactions with Versarien management, including CEO Neill Ricketts. It seems that as far back as May 2017 Wood ‘popped’ into the Versarien offices apparently at will whenever he was in Cheltenham (only 27 or so miles from where he lives), where he was exposed – deliberately or accidentally – to highly price-sensitive information which he then relayed to other investors in a series of thinly-disguised nudges and winks. He also openly admitted to meeting Versarien company officers for friendly little chats, relaying what they said in bulletin board posts the next day. None of this is in question, it is all backed up by his own words in verifiable emails and bulletin board posts.
However, it seems that Wood didn’t limit himself only to ramping the company online. He also actively persecuted the company’s critics – and their families – for daring to go against Ricketts Orthodoxy.
One person who posted extensively about VRS on ADVFN until early-to-mid 2020, and who clearly and repeatedly called Ricketts a liar (among the first to openly do so), writes this:
“I’ve had some very difficult run-ins with VRS shareholders resulting in some hate mail to my family and friends which involved the police.”
As I have detailed previously, Wood called in to a a ‘private’ chat room where folks discussed having me killed simply for being a persistent critic of Ricketts and Versarien, and where he and others discussed how they could get my (then-pregnant) wife fired from her job. An abusive email was sent to the wife of Ian Westbrook (currently being sued by Ricketts for libel) by one of Wood’s henchmen, detailing her husband’s activities in criticising Ricketts (she already knew – she had lost money on Versarien too).
And Wood has several times publicly and openly threatened violence to those whose views he doesn’t like – such as this, on 6th July 2019 (post number 72298 on the ‘VRS The world lead in real Graphene (Nanene)’ bulletin board on ADVFN): “I’d be more comfortable with justifiably shooting a scumbag than swearing on public forums” – and then, later in the same post, lest we be in any doubt who he means, he spells it out: “Winnifrith and co are scum”.
Another critic of Ricketts and Versarien had his physical address posted on ADVFN by SuperG (aka Graham Wood). He writes:
“GW published them [the address details] on the BB. I had people outside my house the following evening tooting their horn and gesticulating at me when I looked out of the window!” He adds;
“Within an hour of my details being put on ADVFN, NR, another VRS employee, and “the school”, had all viewed my Linkedin profile, and NR returned another day.“
‘Within an hour’. So Ricketts reads (or read) the ADVFN board avidly (or was otherwise notified by Wood), was fully aware of Wood’s activities, and far from trying to stop him, went onto LinkedIn. The implicit message in looking at someone’s LinkedIn page – knowing that the target will see your visit – is plain: I know who you are.
I will not name either of the people quoted above to protect their identities – but I have seen their emails myself, and can vouch for their authenticity. With the authors’ permission their full statements will be handed to Ian Westbrook to be entered into evidence in the libel trial currently heading to court.
This harassment and intimidation is a recurring theme. Ricketts seems to be very fond of looking at the LinkedIn profiles of his critics. One can only imagine why, but perhaps it is in furtherance of Wood’s strategy of causing difficulties with critics’ employers? He also looked at Ian Westbrook’s LinkedIn profile too, on 20th August 2019:
Is it worth pointing out (again!) that Ricketts could have shut up his critics at any time over the past three or four years by delivering even ONE of the ‘staggering’ and ‘mind-blowing’ deals he has pumped so hard and so often? By my count he gave 31 interviews with VoxMarkets alone in 2018, and (with the exception of the MediaDevil earbuds, worth negligible revenue) not ONE of the ‘deals’ or ‘collaborations’ Ricketts promoted in those ‘interviews’ resulted in orders, sales or revenues. Not ONE – not in China, and not anywhere else either. And every one of those ‘interviews’ (for which read ‘pumping opportunities’) was paid for by Versarien – something feverishly excited shareholders didn’t appreciate at the time.
There comes a point in every stock market promotion when a company stops being an investment and becomes a cult; one in which it is required to have blind faith if you are to remain invested. A company usually reaches that point when long-term holders are so far underwater and are showing such large paper losses that they have no choice but to put their complete faith in the person running the company – and it usually is just one person, the cult figurehead, often the CEO. Anyone who expresses doubts is a ‘hater’, to be shunned, dismissed and reviled – or persecuted, if you have the means. Graham Wood, it appears, is more than happy to provide those means. Versarien tipped over to cult status some time in H1 2020, when more than two years of promises and predictions about China were shown up as the empty bluster and bullshit they always were. It has been steeply downhill for the company ever since.
Patriotism may or may not be the last refuge of the scoundrel, but court is definitely the last refuge of a failed stock-market promoter who has no other way of shutting up his critics. As the libel action against Westbrook wends its way to court, how many more embarrassing secrets will be revealed about the way Ricketts has ‘run’ Versarien, and the thugs who support “the cause”
Meanwhile in order to ensure that not only Ricketts but Wood are forced to go to court please continue to give generously to the Westbrook crowdfund appeal. With heroic fraud exposer Fraser Perring of Wirecard glory chipping in £2,000, Ian has now raised more than £5,000. He needs £20,000 to get Ricketts to the first stage. Please donate HERE
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