Deceit, Smoke, and Mirrors – The story of High West Capital Partners

High West Capital Fraud Case

of us have probably worked jobs that weren’t quite what they seemed on the outside, but my time at High West Capital Partners is in a category of its own; they owe me $275k and have vanished with my money.

If you’ve ever seen the Tom Cruise movie The Firm, where a hotshot lawyer takes a well-paid role without asking too many questions and soon realizes he is working for the mob, you’ll recognize some of my experiences at High West – without the Hollywood ending.

I lost my job in 2008 after serving my time in Wall Street and for the next decade bounced around a couple of small brokerage firms. I still don’t know how they found me, but I was headhunted on LinkedIn in spring 2019 by an assistant for someone called Jim Locke, the apparent MD of High West Capital Partners, LLC. They promised me 10% commission and would cover all expenses. I agreed almost immediately, and a memo (not a contract) was sent over with the terms of the agreement.

I never spoke to or heard from James Locke during my time at High West Capital Partners, LLC. Does this supposed MD of a supposed investment vehicle that “reaches around the globe twenty-four-seven” even exist? I’ve asked myself this plenty of times over the last year. Most of my research, and that of the investigators I hired to help peel back some of the layers, would indicate no.

Who are High West Capital Partners?

With zero money and no contact from the firm for several months now I have tried to go as deep as possible into the company who were meant to be employing me, and found most of the roads leading to High West Capital Partners went nowhere.

The website promotes offices in Hong Kong, Singapore and Nevis, but for some reason visitors are greeted with an image of Paris, France. High West Capital Partners boasts of its financial intelligence but strange details and the strapline “custom goods made to order” which is not any kind of financial terminology I have heard in 20+ years make the site look more like an amateurish scam.

The Hong Kong address listed on the High West Capital Partners website, 15 Queen’s Road, 75J5+65 Central Hong Kong, is in the centre of the fashion district.

It is home to many law firms, and is the location of choice for at least eight offshore funds, all shell companies registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) between December 2006 and September 2007. It is not home to High West Capital Partners as there is no record of a company of that name ever existing at that Hong Kong address.

During a trip to Hong Kong to meet a potential client in winter 2019 I swung by the building unannounced, out of curiosity. There was no trace of High West Capital Partners on any of the signage and the reception desk also could not find any data indicating the firm operated out of the building.

Hong Kong’s business register has no record of High West Capital Partners, and neither does the Securities and Futures Commission, Hong Kong’s finance regulator.

A six-minute walk away from 15 Queens Road is the Hong Kong Chinese Bank Building. Here, High West Capital Limited was registered in July 2020 by three foreigners; a German, Dr Thomas Robert Wetzer; and two Austrians, Alfons Mensdorff-Pouilly, and Alexander Spitzy.

All three are senior executives at Jebsen Group, a legitimate and longstanding investment management group. Mensdorff-Pouilly and Spitzy are senior managers at Jebsen, while Wetzer is a general manager of equity portfolio at the offshoot Jebson Capital.

High West Capital Limited has no website or any other identifying information, is registered at Suite 603, 6/F The Chinese Bank Bldg Nos 61-65 Des Voeux Rd Central, Hong Kong.

The trio make no mention of High West Capital Limited on their social media profiles, and there is no other financial paperwork lodged. They paid HK $1,000.00 to incorporate it, and the company secretary, which tends to be a law firm, is listed at the same address. It is called Kompliance Limited, a private company formed May 2017.

Look’s Securities was incorporated in August 2016, the same year Spanier and McClain were convicted and around the same time period where all the other bits of the puzzle fit together.

Looks Securities is a sister to Look’s Asset Management, which is listed with Hong Kong’s securities regulator as offering securities advice since 2016 and has much the same management, including the same complaints officer who is the point of contact for regulatory issues.

The first iteration of High West Capital Partners LTD was incorporated in St Kitts and Nevis, which has one of the most obscure and secretive company register databases in the developed world, in 2016. High West’s financials are firewalled by Southpac Trust.

On 21 August 2017, High West Capital Partners LTD registered at Kingston Chambers, Town Road, VG1110, British Virgin Islands (BVI) with the Legal Entity Identifier 549300J8JHMPPSYSI103. It has no operations and no collateral at that site. That address is used by at least 10 other shell companies using the tax haven to obscure trails of wealth.

High West Capital Partners PTE. LTD was registered in August 2018, in Singapore. The address is 8 Marina View, #43-01, Asia Square Tower 1, Singapore 018960 in the local business registry. A “management consultancy” this time, High West Capital Partners PTE. LTD is listed as having five owner-shareholders who paid a cash sum of $5,000 to register.

Registering as a management consultancy means they can circumvent Singapore’s requirements to file annual reports of their income and they do not have to declare other financial information or make other documents publicly available.

Other registries covering Singapore have them at numbers #07-04 Asia Square Tower 1, and the have moved around the building, presumably to help muddy the waters even more.

In March 2017, High West Capital Partners, LLC was incorporated by the process agent Allison Zeledon in New York in 2017, at 91 Pantigo Road in East Hampton. The residential address, unlike the others around it, is blurred on Google Maps street view.

Image 1 – Blurred out image of High West Capital’s alleged processing agent’s address.

In cross-border financing transactions, the parties to the agreement must decide on a choice of law clause specifying that any disputes will be determined in accordance with the law of a particular jurisdiction. It varies, but New York, Hong Kong and the UK are usually chosen.

The process agent is basically the main point of contact for all legal documentation. Allison Zeledon performs this role for a couple of the 10 very similar companies she is linked with around the Hamptons area. Like Jim Locke, if Allison exists, she never responded when I was trying everything to get the money they owe me.

Also registered to that residential address is Hampton Global Invest, L.P. to the names Davis Zeledon, Margarete Seidler (born 1926), and Hans H. Seidler.

Davis Zeledon is a Costa Rican who opened a short-lived fund called Satori Capital Management Ltd in London in 2015 with a German equities trader residing in Spain. Satori was registered to a notorious central London address with 107 other shell companies.

Satori filed no accounts or other financial data and was struck off the British business register in March 2017, the same month High West Capital Partners, LLC was opened in New York. It exited the UK market just before two new sets of corporate anti-corruption laws entered force that would require greater disclosure on sources of funds.

For the sake of completion, Hampton Global Invest was also incorporated in December 2016 as a foreign limited partnership under the jurisdiction of Delaware. Like so many other players in all of this, it appears to be a shell vehicle; there’s no investing and little evidence of any global footprint.

The New York address is the only link High West Capital Partners, LLC has to the US, and I understand it has been raided by the feds.

There is no real US office, but seemingly a presence in Florida and Miami, where I first met the one and only person I know for a fact exists, a young man called Chasen Nevett.

Here’s Chasen’s WhatsApp contact picture, as you can see, his face is obscured, and for good reason, he will be the scapegoat when the High West Capital Partners’ house of cards falls down.

Every time I traveled, expecting to meet Jim Locke, or Allison Zeledon, or one of the other agents, Chasen would call, make excuses for why the others were missing, and then direct my business.

Image 2 – Chasen Navett’s social media profile picture.

I first met Chasen in a coffee shop in downtown Miami, where he let slip he was in town to meet two other High West Capital Partners agents. They went by the names Eric Disbrow, a realtor who is for some reason called “Joe” in his online reviews, and Daniel Giancola, who has sadly removed his LinkedIn profile picture since I started hitting it every day. Whether these are their real names, I have no idea.

I do know that Chasen also goes by the names Robert Klein and Gabriel Messorow. Those are the names he has on two passports (one British, one US) stashed in his drawer in the Singapore office that were found by an office representative of 8 Marina View, #43-01, Asia Square Tower 1, Singapore who had been spooked by a call from US federal prosecutors. I had to try and calm the man after turning up at the offices unannounced, as he began to shove paperwork at me; indictments, arrest warrants, asset seizure notices.

Image 3 – Federal Indictment issued for the two primary suspected ring leaders of the High West Capital Partners shell company.

When I confronted Chasen, or Robert, or Gabriel, he got extremely nervous, and started mumbling about a guy called James Miceli, who I’ll come to shortly, Chasen did the classic move of excusing himself to go to the bathroom and ghosting.

Image 4 – United States Federal Indictment Warrant for the ringleaders of the High West Capital Partners scam.

I never saw Chasen in person again, but we exchanged messages where necessary. Clients have told me he refuses to meet them too.

So, in summary, High West Capital Partners shares addresses in BVI, Singapore, Nevis, and Hong Kong with multiple shell companies because it is also in fact a shell company.

It does not have any employees and it is not traded on any exchange. It doesn’t make money nor provide customers with any kind of services. It exists purely to obscure the identity of the people behind the money and shields them from the eyes of US tax officials.

Taking High West Capital Partners to court won’t help; your money has been funnelled through one of their many tax haven offices and is long gone. That is if you even get a response when taking legal action, as High West Capital Partners’ US operation is just as much of a sham.


The stock loan fraud

Not too long after I began work it soon became clear the links to Asia that High West Capital Partners gassed about really only extended to using Look’s Securities Limited in Hong Kong to sell the pledged stock that clients were putting up as collateral. The problem, the borrower didn’t know this, as they had been promised their stocks wouldn’t be sold unless there was a default.

Look’s Securities was incorporated in August 2016, around the same time period where all the other bits of the puzzle fit together. Looks Securities is a sister to Look’s Asset Management, which is listed with Hong Kong’s securities regulator as offering securities advice since 2016 and has much the same management, including the same complaints officer who is the point of contact for regulatory issues.

It was set up to obscure the trail of sold stocks, which would be dumped on the Hong Kong or Singapore markets in Chinese.

Our clients were told High West Capital Partners may hedge some transactions in connection to minimize the risk of an increase or decrease in collateral value of the loan, but that was all lies. High West Capital Partners, via Look’s, sold the collateral, almost immediately, to fund the loan.

I would notify Chasen of a potential lead, and once the paperwork was signed, he would take over the handling of the collateral and bring Look’s into the picture. He said those were his “orders from above”, but I have no idea who was above him.

A borrower later shared that these loans were generally fixed, usually around three years. They had “lockout” provisions that stops the borrower from prepaying the loan until a specified period elapsed, usually twelve or eighteen months after the date of the agreement.

Borrowing against stock is a totally legitimate way for businesses to get operating capital or a boost of cash to grow – but when the company legitimately can’t get the stock back, especially when they’ve been promised it, a federal crime has been committed.

Hunting payments and the trail through the Hong Kong and Singapore stock exchanges proved near impossible for anyone who tried, and I did for a while.

The excuses from Look’s and Chasen as to what the hell happened were never-ending; Coronavirus, market volatility, the shorting of virus-hit stocks and the freezing of exchanges, riots in Hong Kong making it unsafe for staff, it was something new every day.

Two things happen when the transaction goes like that. One, a business makes interest payments every quarter to service the loan, only to find out after the debt is repaid that the stock is gone. Two, more likely, as I saw during my short time at High West Capital Partners, is this huge dumping of shares sparks a stock price collapse which triggers the ‘Margin Clauses’ buried in the contract, causing the borrower to default, crystalizing the fraud.

After a couple of, I presume now provisional, commissions on the back of deals I’d made, the money stopped coming, emails weren’t returned, and things turned really strange.

High West Capital Partners did not encourage me to visit any of their offices, and instead kept a shared Google drive of scripts and other sales documents. I saw a couple of names on the edits that overlapped with somestories I heard back in the day and started to do some digging.

It got to the point I had no contact with the company for four days, which is when I started poking around a bit more. They owed me $275,000 for a couple of trades, and they had gone quiet when it was time to pay. Calls and emails to Singapore, Nevis and Hong Kong went unanswered.

At this point, some clients were calling me in a rage, but there wasn’t much I could do; the truth is it had been dumped almost in order to fund the loans. I tried to direct some of them to Southpac and the High West Capital Partners LTD BVI office at Kingston Chambers, Town Road, VG1110, but then started getting emails from Chasen– who had been ignoring me until this point – warning me off. Did they have access to my email or something?

Argyll Equities, LLC., and Amerifund Capital Finance, LLC.

In typical half-assed High West Capital Partners fashion, some of the sales scripts and contracts on the share drive were not edited properly, and occasionally had the names Argyll Equities, LLC., and Amerifund Capital Finance, LLC inside the copy where High West or Look’s should have sat.

This was the clearest indicator the loan fraud scheme wasn’t just being executed in the exact same manner as the Argyll and Amerifund cases – it was being run by the same people.

Way back when, James T Miceli and Douglas McClain, Jr, operated Argyll Equities, and Jeffrey Spanier operated Amerifund Capital Finance LLC, the loan brokerage business which was often represented as the retail arm of Argyll.

Argyll was an institutional lender with big cash reserves that could be lent to corporate executives and other individuals. The shareholders would pressure Miceli, McClain and Spanier to push the loaned stock they had bought from clients towards Argyll, who sold it.

The FBI and SEC took the trio to court and secured convictions, despite some shaky evidence and

When the Argyll Equities thing blew up, Miceli killed himself protesting his innocence, unable to take what was happening. Jeffrey Spanier and Doug McClain had always said they were answering to people above them at Argyll and Amerifund Capital Finance, LLC. Spanier helped out the authorities from the start, his lawyers said, because he’d been acting on orders.

Everything pointed to the bosses of Argyll and Amerifund fleeing to Asia in late 2015 where they started the scam all over again. High West Capital Partners has no collateral, no cash reserves and no independent source of funding.

For Spanier and McClain, read Chasen, Giancola and Disbrow, whose name are on most of the contracts and will take the fall, whether they deserve it or not. For Argyll, read Look’s, which is dumping the stock in the Asian markets to ensure there is no trace of it.


High West Capital Partners activity

If you look at the performance of some companies today where High West Capital Partners are involved with stock loans, you’ll see the same patterns.

In July 2019, the CEO of tech firm ClearStar transferred 1,613,000 ordinary shares to High West as collateral for a loan in an off-market transaction. The announcement and press notices have no extra information or contact details for High West Capital Partners, and does not reference whether it is the New York, BV, or Singapore arm of the firm involved. Unlike the other players there are no contact details for High West Capital Partners or detail about their side of the transaction.

Image 5 – ClearStar INC, transfer of 1,613,000 shares to High West Capital Partners for Stock Loan.

ClearStar’s value has halved in that time and is still plummeting.

Image 6 – ClearStar price since entering into loan agreement with High West Capital Partners.

In September 2017, a month after opening, High West Capital Partners, LLC entered into a share pledge agreement with Hattan Land Limited whereby 26,666,700 ordinary shares were transferred to an agent of High West.

Image 7 – Rule 278, Catalist Rules

Hattan Land’s share price is down 36% this year alone, and the company has lost 70% of its value since entering into an agreement with High West.

Image 8 – Hattan Land price since entering into agreement with High West Capital Partners.

Note that this transaction took place in Singapore, but not through High West Capital Partners PTE. LTD of 8 Marina View #43-01, Asia Square Tower 1, Singapore but was handled by High West Capital Partners, LLC, of New York, the shell company with no assets.

High West boasts on its website of how its investment team “specializes in bespoke financing to achieve our clients objectives”, but there cannot be many companies out there who have the aim of losing millions and having their values slashed.

What do we know?

The exact same fraud perpetrated at Argyll Equities and Amerifund Capital Finance is being played out again by High West Capital Partners and Look’s Securities, by the individuals who were not jailed for the original crimes.

The High West Capital Partners executives Jim Locke, Daniel Ginacola, Eric Disbrow and Chasen Nevett are the subject of federal investigations over their fraudulent activities.

No client I spoke with, nor anyone else involved remotely has ever met anyone other than Chasen Nevett. Chasen himself has several identities, and it would not be a stretch to assume the others do too. The firm’s US process agent Allison Zeledon also has questions to answer, if she exists.

High West Capital Partners LTD, registered at Kingston Chambers, Town Road, VG1110, British Virgin Islands (BVI), is a shell company used to funnell ill-gotten gains from other ventures.

High West Capital Partners PTE. LTD of 8 Marina View, #43-01, Asia Square Tower 1, Singapore 018960 is another shell company used to route money out of Singapore in a manner that obscures the identities of the individuals behind the businesses.

High West Capital Partners, LLC of New York in 2017, at 91 Pantigo Road in East Hampton, is a shell company used to facilitate cross-border transactions and hide the identities of the individuals behind the scam.

These last few months, with the bills racking up and work slowing, have been brutal. Trying to get information out of High West is like nailing jello to the wall; I cannot do this by myself. I want the money they owe me $275,000, and I want the world to know what kind of company they are.