Tor Bair’s secrets are out, and the Secret Network community is not happy about what they’ve learned.
The Secret Foundation has a stated mission to support the global presence and community of privacy-focused Layer-1 blockchain Secret Network—formerly Enigma. Early troubles surfaced last year when it was revealed that the Secret Foundation was established as a for-profit corporation, as many had believed it to be a non-profit organization. Then, over the course of 2022, the community had grown increasingly frustrated with the foundation’s perceived opacity and lack of accountability.
On August 1, the community passed a proposal aimed at enhancing transparency into the foundation’s finances. When December arrived with no response or action from the foundation, the broad plan to reform the foundation erupted into accusations of mishandling funds and alleged personal intimidation.
According to Guy Zyskind, the founder and CEO of SCRT Labs—the developers behind Secret Network—it was at this point that he and the SCRT Labs team decided to speak out.
Contrasting public statements
The conflict came to a head on Friday when both Zyskind and Bair released statements on the community forum—Zyskind about an hour before Bair—in which they presented two contrasting narratives.
According to Zyskind, in late 2021, Secret Foundation sold a “substantial amount” of SCRT coins for around $4 million in an over-the-counter trade. The foundation’s Q4 2021 Transparency Report shows an outflow of 645,989 SCRT in December 2021—a net dollar-value change of $4,340,292.
However, before mentioning this OTC deal, Zyskind alleged an OTC deal that resulted in a loss of about $250,000 in funds. He also said this was not reported to SCRT Labs or disclosed to the community until a year and a half later when Bair posted a thread acknowledging that this $250,000 OTC deal in June 2021 was a scammer impersonating Bair.
However, Bair’s statement recasts the OTC trade of the foundation’s funds as a portion of his own SCRT that had been vesting since June 2020 and that would be distributed in December 2021. Bair says that instead of taking the payout in SCRT, he opted to sell the coins OTC so Secret Foundation could distribute the funds to him as a $2.625 million dividend.
Since Secret Foundation Inc. is a for-profit business registered in Illinois, it would not be unlawful for Bair to receive a dividend. Doing so would have required notice to shareholders, however, which does not appear to have been issued. Bair is also the sole shareholder. It would have also needed to be reported in the company’s tax filings, which Bair claims SCRT Labs reviewed.
Whether or not there was financial misconduct, Bair has admitted that Secret Foundation would be able to move forward only if there were changes—changes that he says he wants to be a part of. But in response to the community’s call to return the foundation’s funds, Bair states:
“Sweeping calls for funds to be ‘returned to the community’ are not practical or detailed, and they are potentially destructive and damaging to Secret Network.”
Zyskind and many in the community, on the other hand, do not seem enthusiastic about Bair’s future involvement.
Zyskind concluded his post with a four-point “initial blueprint” for a different vision for transforming the foundation. These include returning all funds currently held by Secret Foundation to the community in order to set up a new Secret Foundation with new leadership; registering the new organization as a non-profit; setting up a long-term funding program, and sending budgeting requests to the Secret blockchain; and establishing a board of directors.
Zyskind did not immediately respond to Decrypt’s request for comment.
Editor's note: This article was updated on January 31, 2023, at 10:30 am ET to reflect Bair's comments that the $250,000 loss in funds was allegedly due to an impersonation scam.