Reform UK And The Crypto-King of Barnsley

Gregory Davis - 14 06 24

Cllr David White, a Reform UK councillor and candidate for Barnsley South, co-founded a cryptocurrency marketing company that has been described as a “Ponzi scheme” – and failed to declare it to his council

Reform UK’s David White, candidate for Barnsley South and one of the party’s few serving councillors, was elected to Barnsley Borough Council as a Conservative in May 2022 before defecting to Reform just six months later.

Cllr White currently sits on four committees, including the Appeals, Awards and Standards Regulatory Board, which “enforces the code of conduct for elected councillors and employees”, despite the Barnsley Chronicle reporting in March 2023 that Cllr White was in arrears on his own council tax and thus unable to participate in budget meeting. 

But in April 2023, HOPE not hate can reveal that Cllr White appears to have played a key role in founding a Dubai-based cryptocurrency marketing scheme – and then failed to disclose it in his own register of interests.

Cllr White [centre] with BuddyX co-founder Mahesh Sharma [right] at the BuddyX “Buddy Achievers Conclave conference, August 2023

At a conference in Thailand in August 2023, Cllr White was heralded as a co-founder of the project, which appears to be based in Dubai and have been co-founded by Mahesh Sharmaa, a Delhi/Dubai-based entrepreneur who has been involved with other cryptocurrency schemes that went bust.

Multi-Level Marketing [MLM] companies are ostensibly organisations set up to sell products or services directly to customers, employing agents to make sales on a personal basis to friends, family and their wider social networks rather than utilising call centre or office-based staff to make sales.

However, many are structured in such a way that the MLM agents make far bigger profits through recruiting additional salespeople – who usually have to pay signup fees and a share of any future profits to those who recruited them – than they do by marketing the product or service itself.

MLM marketing schemes often end up as a form of pyramid/Ponzi scheme,  where the structure requires an endless supply of new recruits to funnel money up the ranks and collapses when the supply of new investors is exhausted.

“Does this look like a scam?”

HOPE not hate is unable to verify the viability or legality of the scheme that White has apparently co-founded, but it is worth noting that the anonymously-run blog ‘BehindMLM’ has concluded that it is a “BDYX token pump & dump Dubai Ponzi” that would “inevitably collapse” once new recruits dried up.

There also appears to be some disquiet from those who have invested in the scheme, with investors/affiliates complaining of secrecy and the failure of the company to deliver on any of its promises. Recent comments to the BuddyX Telegram channel complain that the “company is working like a black box…since last one year not any single project has got completed successfully” and that the company appeared to be solely focussed on MLM recruitment rather than product delivery.

White’s role in the BuddyX group is unclear. His LinkedIn profile states that he took on a freelance role of Business Development Manager at BuddyX around the time that the project was launched, but was described elsewhere as the Chief Marketing Officer and at the glitzy conference in Pattaya, Thailand in August he was introduced to the audience of salespeople as “co-founder” and referred to himself as the “Head of Business in the UK and EU”. 

In his speech to the ‘Buddy Achievers Conclave’, Cllr White appeared to confirm that the “high achiever” salespeople who had “qualified” for the trip to Thailand were largely geared towards recruiting from among their friends and families, and was also keen refute any suggestion from those prospective recruits that the project might be a “scam”

“I’ve met a lot of you guys and ladies over the last couple of days, some in the bar, some in the restaurant – dare I say, some in the swimming pool! And I’ve asked a lot of questions, and had some great feedback. But one of the key things that comes back to myself over the past couple of days is: 

“When you’re out talking to your communities, your friends and families, what do people think of BuddyX? And one big thing that keeps coming back is: they think it’s a fantastic project, but is it a scam?”

White went on to note that his political role as councillor and parliamentary candidate meant that he had to avoid anything illegal, but that he had “asked a lot of questions about the jurisdictions, about legalities: they ticked every single box”. He concluded by gesturing around the conference hall and asking “Does this look like a scam?”

“I’m a local councillor, and the political party that I represent has put me forward to stand as a member of parliament in the general election next year. So it’s incredibly important to myself that everything is as clean as possible. Because believe it or not, UK politicians have to be straight guys – and girls.

So when I first met some of the BuddyCorp/BuddyX team, I asked a lot of questions about the jurisdictions, about legalities: they ticked every single box. I am more than happy with the project. And – does this look like a scam?

Having expressed this desire for everything to be “as clean as possible”, it is therefore strange that Cllr White did not declare any aspect of his involvement with BuddyX to Barnsley Borough Council, despite the Code of Conduct requiring that councillors declare “any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain” within 28 days.

White’s own entries indicate that he did not declare his role with BuddyX to the council at any point after April 2023, and in September 2023 confirmed that his register of interests was up-to-date without adding mention of BuddyX. On March 31 2024, he issued another statement declaring that he had received no gifts or hospitality over the preceding year:

The company that Cllr White has put as his only financial interest is Northwood Solutions Group Ltd, an advertising agency of which he is the sole director. But anyone seeking clarity on Cllr White’s finances from that direction will be disappointed: the company’s accounts and confirmation status are over a year overdue, according to the Companies House website:

Full Disclosure

HOPE not hate contacted Cllr White and requested clarification on his role in BuddyX and whether he had fulfilled the obligation to register his financial interest in the organisation with Barnsley Borough Council, but he did not respond.

The people of Barnsley will have to draw their own conclusions about whether White’s murky financial situation indicates a man who can be trusted to continue representing them at council level and take on the role in Westminster.

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