Sunday, March 26, 2006

E-Gold Clarifications

Letter from Dr. Douglas Jackson; Chairman, e-gold, Ltd.

e-gold® has recently been the subject of a slanderous and unfounded article in Business Week. e-gold strongly refutes the allegations and presumptions of this article. The article chose to focus through anecdote and suspicion only on an exception - criminal abuse - and ignores the overwhelming majority of e-gold usage. It also fails to note that all online payment mechanisms including credit cards and intermediaries such as PayPal are targeted by criminals, likely at a much greater magnitude than e-gold, and fails to relate the very proactive steps e-gold takes to eliminate any criminal behavior involving e-gold.

e-gold and its Operator, Gold & Silver Reserve (G&SR®), including G&SR's exchange service OmniPay® in cooperation with the United States Government and pursuant to a lawfully issued written request, did allow an examination of the e-gold and OmniPay computer systems and data. The examination occurred on December 16th after normal business hours so as to avoid disrupting access to the system. The examination utilized the full resources of e-gold's system and prevented customer access. We were told by the government examiners that the outage would be for a few hours, however, due to the volume of data maintained by e-gold for its customers' protection, a surprise to the examiners, the examination occupied e-gold's computing capacity for 36 hours. e-gold apologizes for any inconvenience of the system down time caused by the government's request. No charges have been filed against e-gold, G&SR, OmniPay or any of its principals.

e-gold operates legally and does not condone persons attempting to use e-gold for criminal activity. e-gold has a long history of cooperation with law enforcement agencies in the US and worldwide, providing data and investigative assistance in response to lawful requests.

I'm proud of what we have accomplished so far with e-gold. e-gold, now in its 10th year online, is growing exponentially because of a network effect, a global cascade of Users telling their friends who then tell their friends. For the first time since our launch in 1996, this growth is providing the revenue and resources needed for e-gold to accelerate technical development and other refinements to make it more reliable and even less hospitable to those who would seek to abuse it.

We are processing the same volume of transactions and growing at the same exponential pace that PayPal was in the second quarter of 2000. One difference, though, is that they had to give away $tens of millions of their investors' money to build a critical mass of user balances and were continuing a burn rate of about $10 million per month during this period. Altogether they burned through about $275 million of capital losses before their IPO.

e-gold, in contrast, lacking significant outside investment:

  • has attained a circulation larger than Canada 's official gold reserves (currently 3.46 metric tonnes of gold, equivalent to about $55 million at current exchange rates).
  • has web traffic surpassing etrade.com and citi.com and is neck and neck with kitco.com as the most heavily trafficked gold related site on the Web
  • settles 50 to 60 thousand user-to-user payments per day, a daily value of about $10 million
  • has active Users in every country, (including more than 150,000 in China ) despite our lack so far of foreign language versions - a high priority on our to-do list

e-gold is the only payment mechanism that is truly global, enabling any merchant to accept payment online even if the payer lives in a third world country, has no credit card, or is perhaps 'unbanked' altogether.

e-gold enables the migrant worker of modest means to send value back to his family in Mexico or Bangladesh at a fraction of the cost of conventional international remittance mechanisms. e-gold alone is free of chargeback risk, yet the fee for receiving payment in e-gold is a tiny fraction of those charged by any other systems.

Thanks to e-gold, for the first time in history, normal people of modest means worldwide have the option of using currency that is designed from the ground up to be immune to debasement, with a governance model that precludes even its management and founders from having the power to subvert it.

Gold & Silver Reserve has been operating for over nine years. Seeking to comply with every applicable law, G&SR has reached out to the Government dozens of times, has repeatedly met with officials from the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI, SEC and a variety of other Federal agencies, and has been told – in no uncertain terms – that we were operating legally and in full compliance with all laws, rules and regulations. Additionally, the Government has requested from us – on more than three hundred occasions – information regarding individuals it believed to be lawbreakers. Gold & Silver Reserve complied with every single request in a professional and timely fashion. Numerous Government officials have gone so far as to commend us in writing for our efforts in complying with their requests and aiding them in their investigations.

Very recently, however, the Government concluded that it was unable to “regulate” our business under any current statutes or regulations. Rather than moving Congress to enact legislation, the Government apparently chose to undertake to regulate us under pre-existing statutes which are totally and utterly inapplicable to our business. To do so, the case the Government brought against Gold & Silver Reserve centered around false statements and fabrications made to a Magistrate Judge in Washington , D.C. A week later, when challenged by that Judge, the Government, fearing it would lose its case filed a second suit against Gold & Silver Reserve. We are now addressing that action and are confident that we will be victorious in a very short time.

Both OmniPay and e-gold have been substantially harmed. Both sites were off-line altogether for 36 hours - an interval during which we were at a loss to know what to announce or even how to announce it. There were other direct interventions as well that I am not yet at liberty to discuss that nearly crippled OmniPay's ability to honor its obligations to and on behalf of users. The worst effect of course is on our reputation. This irresponsible smear piece will surely impair our efforts to build strategic relationships with the host of businesses and individuals that would benefit from an embrace of e-gold.

Let me be very clear. e-gold in no manner condones persons or organizations attempting to use e-gold to support criminal acts. The exact opposite is true. e-gold limits accounts that are suspect of illicit activity and has a long history of cooperation with law enforcement agencies.

There are two elements that make e-gold about the dumbest choice a criminal could make if seeking to obfuscate a money trail or otherwise hide the proceeds of crime.

  1. it is impossible for a general user of e-gold to send/add money (value in any form) into the system... he can only get e-gold by receiving an e-gold Spend from someone who already has some.
  2. there's a permanent record of all transfers, that is, a permanent record of the entire lineage of every particle of value in the e-gold system.

There is nothing "anonymous and untraceable" about e-gold. e-gold Spends settle by book entry - it isn't so-called "digital cash".

e-gold is not about crime. e-gold is not a hospitable environment for criminals. e-gold maintains an efficient and highly capable investigative staff to aid in the identification, apprehension and prosecution of any criminal abusing the system. Our staff has participated in hundreds of investigations supporting the FBI, FTC, IRS, DEA, SEC, USPS, and others. This is the reality of every payment system, the need to aid in rooting out criminal abuse, whether it is child pornographers taking advantage of the multiple layers and indirection of credit card middlemen, or smurfs aggregating cash via international remittance processors or even state lotteries.

e-gold has taken a proactive approach, reaching out to law enforcement agencies and NGO's (Non-Governmental Organization) to foster closer cooperation in combating crime online. For example, e-gold is a charter member of the Financial Coalition to eradicate Child Pornography, organized by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, along with Visa, MasterCard, Microsoft, AOL, PayPal, First Data and some of the major banks.

I hope to have additional and useful facts shortly and will communicate them when appropriate. I can assure you e-gold is up and running, supporting its customers, and continuing to grow.

Dr. Douglas Jackson

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