When will we have had enough of the rule of fear?
A Small-to-Medium Enterprise (SME) first-hand account of financial violence “Collateral Damage”.
“Live dangerously, do what you have to do. Don’t creep around in life”
Good advice from John.
Because if we do anything else, we lose our soul.
I am doing what I have to do, writing this story, as hinted in my previous piece on Huawei.
On the 16th of December, 2019, my limited Company, REMMI Ltd, had its only bank account, my single source of personal funds, frozen, by the bank.
More than two months later, that situation remains unchanged, with no indication of how long it will remain.
I won’t bother saying which bank, as it doesn’t matter.
The bank appears to be acting under a directive that affects all UK banks.
A foreign directive, affecting all of our Banks.
Even though doing so breaches UK legislation.
Specifically, the UK Protection of Trading Interests Act 1980.
Why do they choose to ignore this UK legislation?
Because there is something even bigger, which carries more threat than the UK Government.
The American Government.
(Oh, and they get to keep my earnings)
It is no secret that the U.S. establishment is the main party wielding sanctions, trade restrictions, and the threat of sanctions, around the world; against countries, companies, and individuals.
In fact, they are proud to announce it.
Rather than it being something they should be morally ashamed of, they boast about it, announcing it most effectively through all of their mainstream news channels, as well as most of the non-mainstream channels.
They boast about causing misery to ordinary people.
They have to do that of course, to make it an effective threat.
Standard gangster tactics, no less, no more.
As a direct result;
- I was left stranded in Cuba in early January, with no funds to get home.
- My elderly father had to pay for an amendment to my air ticket to get me back early, safely.
- My mobile phone number of more than twenty years, normally paid through my company, was disconnected, and remains so.
- My company and personal email and internet services are in danger of being disconnected.
- My home broadband is in danger of being disconnected.
- My electricity bills are unpaid, outstanding.
- My water bills are unpaid, outstanding.
- My rent is unpaid, outstanding.
- My Chartered Engineer subscription is unpaid, outstanding.
- My PhD fees are unpaid, with bills outstanding.
- My company accountant is unpaid with bills outstanding.
- I am claiming income support, for the first time in nearly thirty years.
- My daughter’s maintenance payments which I’ve paid meticulously since no longer being her live-in father, are going unpaid.
How it Happened
It started with a phone call, from me to the bank, on the 12th of December 2019.
I informed the telephone assistant that I was going to Cuba for a semi-working trip there, with a view to developing business.
That would be my fourth trip to Cuba.
In the previous three, I had fallen in love with the place, its people, and their culture.
The ordinary people, not their government, which as I saw it, is just another government.
After the first visit, my mind was often there “In spirit”.
Cuba made me happy.
It was natural I would weave that into my business and technical ambitions.
For quite a few years before, I’d been learning all about Cuban and Afro-Caribbean salsa music and dance, and fell in love with that first.
Before this fourth visit, I’d done some work wading through the relevant UK Government and associated guidance. I’d experienced some issues accessing funds in Cuba on the previous visits, but none which had resulted in failure.
The ATMs there were often empty, but when they had funds, they paid out, variously from both my personal and business bank accounts.
So I knew that money matters between Cuba and UK were not straightforward.
But, further guided by the information kindly provided by our government, not prohibitive, or so I thought.
Perhaps naively in hindsight, I thought nothing of speaking to the Bank about my plans for business on the fourth trip.
I asked in that telephone call if they could do transfers to businesses in Cuba. I was expecting my business to be dealing mainly with Cuban dance companies.
The bank informed that they could not.
This didn’t surprise me, though I was glad I’d asked.
As I said in the phone call, the last thing I wanted was to find myself in Cuba with no funds.
I advised that subsequently, I would be at the Bank to collect some funds in person, to take to Cuba at 10am the following Monday, 16th of December.
For that business development trip, I had budgeted around a quarter of the approx £16K remaining funds in the bank account, not enough for the whole trip expected, around three months maybe, time would tell, but still plenty left to work with, or so I thought.
My cash-raising business until then had consisted solely of fees received for my services as a consulting Systems Engineer (Chartered).
That business had been a little slack in the previous two years, so, anticipating a coming downturn in my usual industry, I was looking for other business to switch to; something I could work on more autonomously, without having to depend on defence contracting companies.
My part time PhD until that time, proposed by myself in 2017, sponsored by my limited company, supervised by the Open University, was on the subject of Virtual Reality and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for commercial purposes. It was about halfway through.
The full title of my PhD project was “The Possibilities of First Person View Interactions between the Users of Virtual Worlds, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles”
My PhD research had given me a very trained eye for spotting what is really new and innovative in that area of expertise, in all things 3D virtual.
Like a phone that does marker-less motion capture (MMOCAP).
Of course it had to be Huawei.
I knew this was a capability that had somehow leap-frogged over Western academic research to date.
Until then, MOCAP capability had required a professional studio with multiple fitted cameras, and typically markers on all actors. An investment of $20K for the studio set up would not be unusual.
I know there is a gold-mine of very special dance routines there, which I can instantly recognise, which had never before been captured by MOCAP, in Cuba, or anywhere else. The technology had almost certainly never before been available to Cuba, being way over the budget of most Cuban businesses. There was also a real operational constraint that would exist on such an investment; of very limited internet availability in Cuba.
For better or worse, I am also somewhat of a connoisseur of what is available in MOCAP dance artifacts in virtual worlds.
So there it was; better-than-studio MMOCAP capability, in a mobile phone. Admittedly it was only in a beta state, demonstrable only using Huawei development apps, but enough to build on, and I have the very rare skills and tools to build, rapidly.
I am not a coder, not by any means. Rather, my skills are in code generation using Model Based Design toolsets. With the right tools, and the right skills, working apps of very complex systems can be built and code generated in a matter of days, if not hours. That is a speciality I have practiced widely in Defence Systems for many years, as well as in my PhD.
I made sure to check the development capability before I went, installing some initial apps which I had built on one of the two phones which I’d purchased for the purpose. I took all of the tools needed to complete the development with me, to Cuba.
The lion’s share of royalties which could be made would obviously rightfully go to the businesses and individuals creating these artistic performances in Cuba, but I could see a business model of how my business would deliver the required technology and expertise for a portion of the proceeds, which would be plenty enough for my purposes, to continue funding my PhD research to completion via my limited company, REMMI Ltd.
Beyond that, this mobile portable MOCAP capability has very profound implications for Augmented Reality applications.
Another story, for another day.
I went to the bank to collect the cash as arranged.
On arrival, there was some initial surprise. It seemed the telephone assistant I spoke to had not passed on our arrangement to the tellers, but they produced the cash without further comment, and off I drove home.
I still thought nothing of it later, when I found there appeared to be some problem preventing me paying the usual bills from the account. I assumed the problem would be cleared very soon, not longer than a day or so.
I flew to Cuba on 19th December.
It became clear after the first week in Cuba, when the account was still locked up, that the problem was maybe something to start worrying about.
I gave the bank another call, from Cuba.
They informed me that the account was “Frozen”, due to being “Investigated” under their internal regulations to prevent money laundering, and they would let me know when it was sorted out.
OK, so still not panicking.
It wouldn’t take long for them to establish that I, a very small player in the scheme of things, who’s income came solely from well known Defence contracting agents, couldn’t possibly be involved in something so shady, would it?
Surely also they would understand and respect that my life itself could be endangered if they continued to deny me access to my funds, whilst I was travelling in Cuba, wouldn’t they?
Wrong, on both counts.
It stayed locked, is still locked, and could be locked forever, for all I know.
I flew back from Cuba on the 16th of January.
I finally went to visit the bank a few weeks ago, after many further phone calls and emails.
My Business bank is a two hour drive from my home.
I had also tried all the things I was advised to do, to try to get the account unlocked. All have fobbed me off with various excuses and strategies to put me off.
There appears no help whatsoever, from any party for this situation.
Forget the ombudsman, that is a joke. The ombudsman insisted in all communications in writing via an encrypted webmail massaging system, which times out, or falls over every couple of minutes, causing loss of much work, and extreme frustration. The reason given for this was “Security”.
Security for what? I have nothing to hide. Why would I wish what is clearly a travesty happening to me to remain just between my aggressors and me?
No explanation I provided was ever accepted anyway.
Why should I, who have done nothing wrong, be having to go to such lengths to try to save my liveliehood?
IT SHOULD NOT BE HAPPENING.
On the visit, I took my sixteen year old daughter who is more level headed than I, and someone I have to set a good example to, therefore someone who by just being present, would prevent me from really blowing my top, and doing something crazy to whom I perceived were the bastards who were clearly ruining me.
On that visit, they informed verbally that they had a rule which they had to enforce, to prevent customers doing business in Cuba, to protect the interests of “International Clients”.
I’ve never had that in writing.
They could give no more information, including how long the lock on the account would remain in place.
Interestingly, I can see they are still managing to draw bank charges for themselves, from my account.
Already, massive damage has been done, to my company, and myself.
Damage which will be permanent, unless somehow a way to reverse it is found.
I’ve given up hope now, of saving my PhD and my career as a professional Chartered Engineer, and my limited company.
That doesn’t mean I’ve given up everything.
Quite the opposite, actually.
As I’ve advised to others with ambitions of business; many times, you have to be able to roll with the punches.
I will retreat as required, to where I can continue developing things on a personal level, as I’ve had to do previously in life.
I am no stranger to hardship, as people who’ve known me for a long time know very well, I got where I got, from a very, very poor place, from innovation, and grit.
(Another story, another day)
My innovation is still there, in buckets, with the grit, as always.
No-one can take that away, and it is what will win in the end, as Huawei is also showing us.
The UK Government needs to beware and see this also, not only to keep us free to do business with innovation, at this time when we need it most, since the cooling of relations with the EU, but to empower us to do so.
Our government needs to do what it needs to do, to protect us from the fear machine that the U.S. establishment has become.
Our UK Government needs to show us they are on our side.
We, the ordinary people wishing a just world, need to do what we need to do, both here and in U.S. We need to speak out about the obvious injustices done to us, and that we see done to others, for the sake of the world; for the world our children will inherit.
If you think what is happening to me, or even what is happening to John Shipton’s son, Julian Assange, have nothing to do with you, think again.
Julian Assange is not in breach of anything. He never swore allegiance to keep the secrets of any Government. Therefore he has committed no crime. He had every right to publish whatever he could dig up on what are obviously war crimes.
They claim he put lives in danger. Really?
The only lives his actions could arguably have threatened are those of the criminals exposed in his publications.
I too, have done nothing wrong, but my very hard earned liveliehood has been taken, by pretty much the same forces as are persecuting Julian Assange.
Think we still have an NHS?
With nothing changed, it is only a matter of time before your liveliehood, and maybe even your life, will be taken too.
They can’t jail all of us.
And don’t expect any particular party to change things without work from us, the people.
No more suffering in silence, pulling our punches, rolling with theirs, rigging our game in their favour, allowing the tail to keep wagging the dog.
We need to speak our minds, to show we still have that freedom, to keep that freedom.
CALL IT OUT.
Otherwise those gangster cry-bullies will drag us down with them, all souls, rich and poor.
Apologies for an initial error; I assumed the name of the man who is unmistakenly Julian’s father speaking in the video was Brett Assange. It was actually John Shipton, Julian’s father, in the video saying those words. Now corrected.
Update 07/03/2020 Still no change, account still frozen. So I changed my mind on not naming the Bank. It was Metro Bank “ We believe that people come first”. They took over £12,700, which I had earned as a Consulting Engineer, working at the time for BAE, commuting back and forth between Scotland and England via the already now also defunct Flybe airline. How the hell are things like this allowed to happen to law abiding people, endeavouring to create business and wealth? Do we even have a government?