IOTA: Questionable connections to Russia

The IOTA Foundation with chief Dominik Schiener is implementing the controversial Stardust upgrade today, Wednesday. Our research shows: Graziano Pedroja, a colorful figure with friends in the Kremlin, could also profit from this.

Critics regularly accuse the Berlin-based non-profit IOTA Foundation of lacking transparency. We dug deeper in connection with the big IOTA Stardust upgrade scheduled for today and discovered a story that leads to Switzerland and Moscow. Namely, it’s about the Tangle Ecosystem Association, which goes by Verein Tangle Ecosystem in German. This offshoot of the Berlin-based IOTA Stifung was founded in Switzerland in the summer of 2022 and, according to the announcement at the time, is intended to support the IOTA ecosystem in managing reserves. The problem: A certain Graziano Pedroja appears here.

The Swiss commercial register shows this Graziano Pedroja as authorized signatory for the IOTA association Tangle Ecosystem – and with single signature. CEO is also in this association according to the entry IOTA co-founder Dominik Schiener, but Schiener is authorized to sign only in collective with other board members. In plain language: In case of doubt, Graziano Pedroja alone can decide on the funds of the Tangle Ecosystem association with his signature. Strangely, no previous relationship of Graziano Pedroja to the IOTA Foundation or linked projects is known – at least to us.

Graziano Pedroja at IOTA – quite a delicate personnel matter

So who is this Graziano Pedroja? A Google search shows him on various supervisory boards and boards of directors, including Nefte Petroleum. But at the top of the search, Graziano Pedroja also appears in connection with the leaked so-called Pandora Papers from 2021. At that time, Graziano Pedroja was probably not yet working for IOTA, but held the office of Lithuanian Honorary Consul in Switzerland on the side. Lithuanian research by the investigative journalists of “Siena” led to close connections of Graziano Pedroja to the inner circle of Russian President Putin. A Croatian online portal also came to similar conclusions about Pedroja based on its own research.

At the time, the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry announced an investigation into Graziano Pedroja and no longer lists him as an official. So the man has anything but a “clean slate” and this was known since the end of 2021, even before the start of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine in February 2022. Graziano Pedroja will be registered as an individual signatory for the IOTA representation in Switzerland when the association is founded in September 2022. It is hard to imagine that the IOTA Foundation did not do at least a quick background check on Pedroja beforehand. After all, the latter should be able to decide on millions.

IOTA Stardust ensures money flows to Switzerland and Abu Dhabi

But the IOTA Foundation was already tight at the time and had set itself a sharp savings program. Money on a larger scale is only now being injected into the IOTA foundations and associations with the Stardust upgrade. Because with Stardust, IOTA increases the amount of all tokens by 65 percent, instead of 2.78 billion IOTA before, 4.6 billion will exist from today on. Of the “reprinted” IOTA, according to the announcement, 552 million IOTA (12 percent of the new total) will go to the Tangle Ecosystem association, where Graziano Pedroja is entitled to go it alone. So at current price levels, the equivalent of a good $80 million is flowing towards Tangle Ecosystem Association and Graziano Pedroja in Switzerland.

We would also like to remind you at this point that IOTA boss Dominik Schiener was already brought into connection with insider trading  in the second half of 2022 and the accusations were never refuted.

Conclusion: IOTA Foundation with questionable allies.

In the last few days, we have also tried to find out who is to fill the ten-member committee in the IOTA network that will take the place of the previous individual coordinator controlled by the foundation after Stardust. There was no reliable information on this, so it is quite possible that the Tangle Ecosystem association with Graziano Pedroja will come into play here as well.

Who is with the again created IOTA donation in Abu Dhbai  with on board, remained so far likewise vague. The IOTA representation in Abu Dhabi will be allocated as many tokens by Stardust as the Swiss association.

IOTA was often classified as a “German cryptocurrency” by headquarters in Berlin and the status as a non-profit foundation created trust. But those who examine the effects of Upgrade Stardust more closely can hardly avoid asking critical questions. The case of Graziano Pedroja seems particularly sensitive to us, as his role in IOTA is even more mysterious than his widely documented connections to the inner circle of power in the Moscow Kremlin.

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