Keith Ingersoll entered into a cryptocurrency project in 2018 with a far-right Russian religious scholar that claimed to be backed by the government of Belarus.July 6, 2021 12:17 pm
Prosecutors involved in the wide-ranging investigation into Central Florida political figures including Congressman Matt Gaetz have recently scrutinized a key ally of disgraced former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, who has since pled guilty to multiple charges including sex trafficking of a child, wire fraud, stalking, and conspiracy. The Greenberg ally, Keith Ingersoll, entered into a cryptocurrency project in 2018 with a far-right Russian religious scholar that claimed to be backed by the government of Belarus, Forensic News can reveal.
Ingersoll is a Florida real estate executive who was hired by Greenberg shortly after he took office in 2017. One year later, Ingersoll was named as Executive Vice President of Organic Fresh Coin, a cryptocurrency Initial Coin Offering (ICO) headed by a Russian-born entrepreneur active in the beauty and pageant industry.
The ICO ran at the same time that Greenberg was in the midst of his own cryptocurrency dealings, which eventually led to the criminal charges of wire fraud. Prosecutors said that Greenberg, “embezzle[d] and divert[ed] over $400,000 to benefit himself personally,” and included details of Greenberg’s wide array of cryptocurrency projects.
Keith Ingersoll and Joel Greenberg
Days after Greenberg assumed the position of Tax Collector for Seminole County, Fla., the office inked a deal with Ingersoll’s newly-registered KI Consulting, according to ABC News which obtained documents prepared by an independent auditor.
The documents from MSL CPAs & Advisors, also obtained by Forensic News, show that the auditors concluded that there was, “no evidence of work product” from Ingersoll’s consulting contract and that the Tax Collector staff were “unaware what this group did.”
One deal in which Ingersoll was involved was a real estate transaction that took place in May 2017. According to the Orlando Sentinel, Ingersoll acted as Greenberg’s real estate advisor in the purchase of an old bank building. The property was first purchased by a friend of Ingersoll’s for $680,000 before being resold on the same day to Greenberg’s Seminole Tax Collector’s Office for $942,000.
“The acquisition of this property has collusion written all over it,” wrote Dan O’Keefe, the independent auditor in an October 2020 memo obtained by Forensic News. “Even if you can say this was a legal transaction, you can say the Seminole County Tax Collector paid $262,000 in taxpayer’s dollars more than he needed to,” he concluded.
One source familiar with the matter confirmed ABC News reporting that Ingersoll is now part of the investigation. Investigators want to know why Ingersoll was under contract with Greenberg’s office if there was seemingly no work product.
Organic Fresh Coin
On Dec. 22, 2017, Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko announced the legalization of cryptocurrency and ICO’s, opening the floodgates for digital coin businesspeople to set up shop in the country and trade in digital assets.
Just one week later, Organic Fresh Coin’s (OFC) website was created, an alleged partnership of Ingersoll, a Russian-born Miami-based entrepreneur named Yulia Konstantinova, and Soviet-born theologian Mikhail Morgulis, who holds the title of Honorary Consul of Belarus in Florida.
One of two websites used by OFC stated that the cryptocurrency aimed to provide transparency to the food supply chain industry by attaching sensors to fish. None of the executives listed in a brochure for OFC, including Ingersoll, Konstantinova, and Morgulis, had any prior public history in the farming or food supply industries. Many of the open-source details about OFC were first discovered by independent researcher @gal_suburban and attorney Jennifer Cohn.
On Jan. 4, 2018, Organic Fresh Coin LLC was incorporated in Florida to the same office suite as Ingersoll’s KI Consulting, which had an active contract with Greenberg’s office.
Numerous social media accounts, websites, and documents belonging to OFC made the remarkable claim that the coin was officially backed by the government of Belarus.
In the company’s “executive summary” OFC states that they are “supported by” and “have a partnership with” the government of Belarus. A YouTube video showcasing OFC declared that the coin was “backed up by the Republic of Belarus” and an Instagram account for OFC posted a photo of Morgulis and Lukashenko with the caption, “OFC advisor with President of Belarus.”
A source who was involved in OFC told Forensic News that Chris Miller, the boyfriend of Konstantinova, bragged about their connections to Belarus.
“The government of Belarus is behind us and we know the President,” Miller said, according to the source.
Though it cannot be definitively stated that OFC completed their Initial Coin Offering, blockchain records indicate that the coin was transferred (amongst only a few dozen individual wallets), and the company spent funds to incorporate the LLC, create a website, purchase cryptocurrency mining equipment, and market their product.
The claim of a partnership with the Belarusian government is strengthened by the involvement of Morgulis, who was appointed Honorary Consul of Belarus in December 2015 when he was presented with official documents by the Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of Belarus in the U.S., Pavel Shidlovsky.
By April of 2018, OFC claimed to have raised $15 million, though that could not be confirmed by publicly available evidence. That month, Morgulis met multiple times with Shidlovsky, including one event in which cryptocurrency was a topic of discussion.
Any involvement of a foreign government in OFC could raise potential Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) violations, though experts say that it is a unique case and more needs to be known.
Anna Massoglia, a researcher at the Center for Responsive Politics, told Forensic News that the FARA requirements are broad, though there are exemptions.
“FARA covers all ‘quasi-political’ activity such as attempting to influence public opinion or policy. That might even include the creation of a white paper depending on the goal of the white paper’s creation and whether it was created under the ‘direction and control’ of the foreign client,” she said.
However, the Belarus government’s participation in OFC is not in itself enough to trigger foreign agent registration, Massoglia said.
“There is a commercial exemption that is available even to state-owned enterprises that are wholly owned by a foreign government so long as they operate with what DOJ deems to be sufficient ‘commercial independence.’”
Massoglia also pointed to the references in the OFC whitepaper of promoting agricultural activity in Belarus as a potential point of interest for the Department of Justice. Those references included a claim that OFC “is starting with over 20 million acres of existing land available for farmers to expand into.”
“Even if the activities were somewhat commercial in nature, DOJ may still consider those activities to be political enough to trigger FARA disclosure requirements if they are trying to persuade and influence U.S. investors to invest in the foreign country for the benefit of the that country’s industry, which would be in the public interest of foreign government,” Massoglia said. “The role of the government and the country’s agriculture industry in the push to draw investors in the cryptocurrency potentially changes the dynamic.”
A cryptocurrency investigator who has researched OFC and spoke to Forensic News on condition of anonymity to more freely discuss his non-public work said that OFC “is consistent with a typical ‘pump and dump’ scheme.”
“The business case was a nonsensical mishmash of buzzwords and marketing-speak,” the source said before noting that an analysis of the blockchain records for the token indicated that multiple transfers to third-party wallets occurred before the public sale of the token. “The OFC team transferred large quantities of the pre-mined token to a private group of undisclosed wallet owners, in advance of the public sale,” he said.
These transfers appeared suspicious to the investigator who concluded that “the ICO may have intended, based on historical and anecdotal info found, solely to enrich the small team involved.”
By late 2018, all accounts for OFC were dormant. The company was dissolved in mid-2019, but not before one transfer of 300 million OFC coins, or 86% of the total supply, between two wallets whose owners remain unknown.
Mikhail Morgulis, Keith Ingersoll, and Yulia Konstantinova
For Morgulis, Ingersoll, and Konstantinova, a cryptocurrency company does not fit within their known work profile.
Ingersoll is a real estate executive by trade, running the Ingersoll Group, an investment firm in Orlando Fla. According to various court and property records, Ingersoll has been in business with Chris Miller, Konstantinova’s partner, dating back to at least 2004.
Ingersoll was stripped of his role as an auxiliary police officer with the Belle Isle Police Department in 2012, the Orlando Sentinel reported, “for having ‘an established association’ with a friend and business partner who had multiple outstanding felony warrants and not notifying the police department.”
Documents obtained by Real World Media show that the friend named in the police report was Miller (Aaron is his legal first name). Ingersoll was arrested for DUI in 2020 and video of his arrest went viral in 2021, in part because Ingersoll was driving a Rolls Royce.
Law enforcement records from Florida indicate that Miller has an extensive criminal history, having been charged with burglary, stalking, trespassing, possession of cocaine, and other infractions.
Morgulis is a Soviet emigre author who has lived in the U.S. for over 40 years, promoting far-right ideology through religion, a process he has dubbed “Spiritual Diplomacy.”
A profile on Morgulis written by Casey Michel for ThinkProgress called Spiritual Diplomacy a “nebulous organization” and described Morgulis as “one of the leading voices spinning anti-democratic, and pro-Russian, forces in places like Belarus and Ukraine for American audiences.”
The ThinkProgress profile followed a Washington Post report on Morgulis’s efforts to collaborate with alleged Russian intelligence operative Sergei Millian to rally Russian voters for Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
“We can organize the Russian community to vote for Trump. If you are interested in getting 5 million people, I am ready to participate in this campaign, together with you,” Morgulis wrote to Millian in an email obtained by the Post.
The Senate Intelligence Committee later found (p. 876) that “much about Sergei MILLIAN resembles activities by a Russian intelligence officer or cooptee.”
Far less is known about Konstantinova, the president of Organic Fresh Coin. She appears to have a background in cosmetology and fashion though she has had multiple businesses registered in Florida in industries ranging from potash to various Eastern European Chambers of Commerce.
It was her “unique experience and direct relationship with the country of Belarus” that “enabled OFC to be the first crypto currency backed by a country,” OFC claimed, though the nature of her relationship with the Belarusian government could not be determined.
*For more about Morgulis, Konstantinova, and their connections to foreign governments and the inner circle of Donald Trump, stay tuned for Part 2 of this series.*
Denials and Downplays
In an attempt to determine if the Belarusian government did indeed support OFC, Forensic News emailed the Belarus Embassy in Washington D.C., but the mailbox was no longer operable. The phone number listed for the embassy was not answered and no voicemail box was set up. Belarus’s consulate in New York referred Forensic News back to the embassy and provided a non-public phone number, which asked for an access code. Then, the New York Consulate referred Forensic News to a phone number for the Florida Consulate, which was answered by Morgulis himself.
Over the telephone and later via email, Morgulis claimed to Forensic News that he “was not aware of the cryptocurrency project,” despite the plethora of evidence, including photographs and corporate documents, previously detailed.
“I have never been a partner of Organic Fresh Coin, Morgulis flatly stated. “I did not negotiate with them, never engaged in cryptocurrency, and did not receive a single cent from them,” he declared.
When asked about his relationship with Konstantinova, the theologian said, “I knew Yulia Konstantinova and Chris Miller as acquaintances, whom I came across a few times…Mrs. Konstantinov is an acquaintance, whom I met in the capacity of being present at joint meetings amongst mutual friends.” On Facebook, Morgulis has posted private meetings with Konstantinova and Miller.
“As I didn’t take any part in this project, I am unable to provide [further] information,” he said.
Michael Arbach, who is listed as the lead architect and whose name appears on the coding for OFC, told Forensic News that he only had three or four phone calls with Miller and Konstantinova. He further stated that he was unaware his name was used in the whitepaper and did not know what happened to OFC after 2017, though corporate documents show that his company On-Chain LLC went into business with OFC in January 2018 for a separate venture called ICO Kings.
Konstantinova and Ingersoll did not reply to written requests for comment.
Joel Greenberg and Matt Gaetz
Ingersoll’s role as Executive Vice President for OFC may not be Greenberg’s only connection to the company.
In a LinkedIn post, OFC tagged various business partners in a promotional video for the company. One of the names tagged was Jim Adamczyk, who himself has come under scrutiny in the Greenberg probe, as he was the seller that profited over $262,000 from the real estate transaction flagged by the auditor.
The federal investigation that began with Greenberg has turned into a sprawling inquiry into the Central Florida political scene, sources familiar with the matter told Forensic News. Investigators are looking into a wide variety of potential criminal activity including sex trafficking, corruption, and money laundering.
“Greenberg’s extensive list of payments to associates across Florida seems to be the key here,” said Robert J. DeNault, a legal analyst who has closely followed the investigation. “Were these just payments from a guy trying to enrich his friends, or did Greenberg siphon money from taxpayers with knowledge that it would go to business operations like this ICO or other potential schemes?”
One source said that local defense attorneys have been hired to such a degree that some have turned down prospective clients for conflict of interest issues because they had already been retained by people under scrutiny in the same investigation.
For Gaetz, prosecutors may reach a charging decision as soon as this month, ABC News reported.
It is understood that Greenberg and at least one of his former girlfriends are cooperating with the authorities.