Cryptocurrency investors are demanding answers from a high profile Launceston-based expert who has yet to comment on allegations he owes millions of dollars, which started to surface publicly 11 days ago.
Alex Saunders, the founder of Nugget's News YouTube channel and a fee-based advice service, was alleged to have sought investors for an under-development project known as "Decentral Bank", but instead appeared to quickly transfer the money into a cryptocurrency derivatives exchange.
The allegations started to surface after Mr Saunders featured on an online livestream with US-based cryptocurrency expert Richard Heart on July 18, where the two argued vigorously about each other's credibility.
After the stream - viewed more than 60,000 times - Mr Heart posted a series of screenshots online of earlier conversations with Mr Saunders in which the Tasmanian appeared to request a "short term loan" from him because "I have some not nice characters saying I owe them".
Mr Saunders later appeared to offer Mr Heart "a 50k allocation in my project", believed to be the Decentral Bank project.
Following Mr Heart's post, more investors posted their concerns about Mr Saunders' alleged recent activity online, including YouTube personality Bitboy_Crypto - or "Ben Armstrong" - who provided screenshots of a conversation in which he repeatedly sought a response from Mr Saunders regarding an alleged earlier loan.
Further messages appeared to show Mr Saunders promising to repay everyone in full, dependent on the success of the project he had been working on.
A link to cryptocurrency wallets that show online transaction histories - allegedly belonging to Mr Saunders - was also shared, showing at least several million dollars' worth of investments coming in from a range of sources, only to quickly be transferred to a cryptocurrency exchange for reinvestment.
On Thursday, Australian cryptocurrency educator Brad Laurie posted 40 questions on Twitter for Mr Saunders, including allegations that "many" Nugget's News members who invested in the Decentral Bank project were "very worried about their investments".
Mr Laurie said he had been contacted by concerned individuals.
"Too many people were raising serious concerns, claims, screenshots etc; and serious statements were starting to emerge in private chat groups and popular influencers were starting to speak about content related to the [Richard Heart direct messages] as well," he wrote.
"As Aussies, we tend to be quite direct, and you and I are known for taking a 'no BS approach' in crypto, so I really thought you would have addressed all of this directly and publicly by now (it's been well over a week)."
Nugget's News has not posted a YouTube video since July 16, and not on Facebook since June 18.
The Facebook group for members, Nugget's Crypto Community, was renamed Collective Shift Crypto Community, but Collective Shift managing director Ben Simpson reportedly confirmed Mr Saunders was no longer a shareholder or contributor. Comment has been sought from Mr Simpson.
Mr Saunders is a former board member of Blockchain Australia, the peak industry body.
In a statement, Blockchain Australia continued to request Mr Saunders respond to the allegations.
"We are aware of the allegations made against Mr Saunders," the statement reads.
"We urge anyone impacted by this matter to seek legal advice and to provide details of any loss of funds to Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC).
"We have contacted Mr Saunders and have been advised that claims against him are being handled by his legal representative.
"We have formally requested Mr Saunders respond to the allegations. We are yet to receive a response to the request."
Mr Saunders was unable to be contacted for comment.
Mr Saunders first became interested in bitcoin in 2012 - years before its price skyrocketed - and he became a cryptocurrency expert, or influencer, after leaving his job at a pharmacy.
His YouTube channel had 140,000 subscribers.
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