Businessman offering financing for eco-infrastructure misrepresents connection with PRT company
©MMXI, MMXII, MMXIII The PRT NewsCenter
Major 'sustainable,' 'eco' and 'green' projects take place in the spheres of business and finance, so it has to be expected that the field is going to see its share of hustlers. Luckily, we are in an era of information-at-your-fingertips, so it is somewhat easy to catch them out.
Graham Cockroft is notable for his ubiquity in recent weeks, promoting his MaglevMovers.com site on Facebook, and of late on Twitter. Maglev Movers is trying to interest city governments in "social housing," waste-to-energy, wind and solar energy systems, maglev trains, and Personal Rapid Transit. But in at least one case Cockroft has misrepresented his business connections.
One of Cockroft's activities on Facebook and Twitter is to announce additions to Maglev Movers' professional network. He is regularly "delighted" at yet another company joining Maglev Movers' ranks as a "preferred" supplier, vendor or consultant.
One such addition is SkyTran, a PRT company also known as Unimodal. Cockroft (@cymply) has tweeted:
SkyTran even appears in the official MaglevMovers brochure on PRT:
There is nothing incorrect per se about the way PRT is portrayed as a concept, or its potential performance. The problem is that Cockroft and Maglev Movers have no connection with SkyTran.
Cockroft is "delighted" to have SkyTran CEO Jerry Sanders on his team. But Sanders himself tells PRT NewsCenter:
We have no relationship with MagLev Movers. We never have. Graham and his colleagues have made repeated overtures asking us to sign all sorts of letters and agreements, none of which we ever signed or agreed to. Indeed, we have repeatedly cautioned Mr Cockroft and his colleagues to take off all references to SkyTran from their various websites and other paraphernalia.
What service is Maglev Movers offering? Well, they are advertising a green technology portfolio to cities interested in building eco-infrastructure, and offering to put them together with investors looking to make the cities nonrecourse loans.
Presumably Maglev Movers would get commissions for arranging the loans:
But if there is no actual technology vendor on board -- for instance, if an investor agrees to loan a Brazilian city money for a SkyTran system, but Maglev Movers can't deliver SkyTran -- what happens to the money? Hopefully no municipalities or venture capitalists have had the misfortune to find out. And if Maglev Movers is handling the transaction as a broker, it presumably gets the commission whether or not the project is realized.
Cockroft's unfortunately-titled earlier Maglev Movers page:
Cockroft has unsavory incidents in his background. He had a business run-in with the law in Cyprus, which deported him in 2001. In 2003 the deportation was upheld by the Cyprus Supreme Court:
BRITISH businessman Graham Cockroft, who was thrown out of Cyprus in 2001, was legally deported, the Supreme Court has ruled.Cockroft, 56, ran a Cyprus-based company Rockpool Homes Ltd in a joint venture with Cypriot partners in Pissouri to build solar-powered houses; he was deported in August 2001, with only the clothes on his back.. . .But according to the authorities, Cockroft was living in Cyprus without permission and was exercising a profession without a permit. He was also accused of having a website advertising not only holidays in occupied areas but also the sale of immovable property there. Source
More recently, his business interests have turned in a different direction:
Cockroft appears to be based in Silves, Portugal. He has not responded to multiple inquiries from PRT NewsCenter.
Update 1: (12/19, 10:00 am PST) Cockroft has responded!
Despite all the tweets about being "delighted to have" various companies and individuals as "preferred" whatevers, and publishing SkyTran in Maglev Movers literature, Graham Cockroft insists to the NewsCenter:
we have no relationship with Mr Sanders of Skytran or Skytran itself or NASA or America as a whole... and to my knowledge don`t profess to claim so anywhere on the Internet.[ellipses in original]
If an over enthusiastic MaglevMover follower (we have around 250 worldwide) has claimed we are their partners,funders, bankers, design partners,mentors then I'm afraid they were wrong.
Cockroft went on to write that a company becomes Maglev Movers "preferred" simply when "we think they have a terrific product."
Update 2: (12/22/2011) Graham Cockroft has contacted us again.
Mr. Cockroft has sent us a long, rambling email, bursting with English pride though all the while butchering their language. Among many other things, he writes:
"At the time you went to print, there was no relationship between MM and Skytrans, there is now........we are friendlier then ever almost married !!. [sic]When contacted by the NewsCenter, Jerry Sanders of SkyTran again denied existence of a relationship.
Cockroft confirms Maglev Movers' goal is to collect commissions: "1-2% would do fine as we are worth it.......... Minimum deal a billion." [sic]
Although Cockcroft goes on to admit he has no real products:
"WE DON`T DELIVER ANYTHING except good old British service and satisfaction." [emphases in original]
Basically, Cockroft wants to be the unnecessary middle man -- a know-nothing where eco-infrastructure technology is concerned, his sole objective is to add cost to government-funded projects, so that he can take commissions off the top.
Cockroft also discloses he has also been "deported twice from Portugal," and his Cyprus case "is no doubt set to be finalised in the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg." However, a document search of the Court of Human Rights finds nothing for 'cockroft.'
Still no word on the "contract with India for 34 miles of PRT track.!!" Cockroft was expecting on Dec. 19.
Update 3: (12/29/2011) There is now confirmation of Cockroft misrepresenting his connection with a second company. Laurence E. Blow, president & founder of MaglevTransport, tells the NewsCenter:
I asked Graham Cockroft to remove my name from his website marketing... I have not given him explicit permission
Yet MaglevMovers.com has the following page:
And Cockroft tweeted:
Update 4: (3/30/2012)
After months on the down low, Cockroft has returned to Twitter--
Update 5: (2/21/2013)
Another PRT company reports being taken in by Maglev Movers, and provides a link to a 2009 article about Cockroft and another investment scam. In the Comments section below.
Update 6: (2/25/2013)
At least one PRT company doesn't read the NewsCenter editor's blog.
JPods is the company involved in the Fayetteville, GA pod initiative (NewsCenter, 2/19)