The cryptocurrency scene is the wild west. One day, members of your decentralized finance platform are electing you to serve as CEO. The next, you’re fending off rumors of fraud and jokes about bestiality.
This is the embattled position that the chief (or “chef”) of SushiSwap, an exchange and lending market that offers various tools to crypto investors, currently finds himself in.
Jared Grey, a former IT consultant who went on to found and lead the exchanges Bitfineon and EONS Finance, was appointed to the job on Oct. 3, according to a Twitter announcement from SushiSwap. He claimed 84 percent of the vote within the organization after months of internal debates on their Discord server over how to fill a leadership vacuum. (In September 2021, a co-founder known as 0xMaki relinquished management duties; that December, CTO Joseph Delong also resigned, adding to the operation’s woes.)
Grey tweeted that he was “excited” to take the reins and get SushiSwap back on track.
But on Oct. 10, things took a turn for the worse. That’s when a crypto enthusiast with the Twitter handle @YannickCrypto accused Grey of being a “scammer” and a “con artist” — and, Rolling Stone has learned, a Twitter troll managed to snowball that claim into an uproar about horse molestation.
As for the initial allegations, the details are complex, but in essence, @YannickCrypto and others believe that Grey bears responsibility for a heist of 70 percent of the funds from an earlier crypto project, ALQO. They say that in 2019, he covered this theft up by swapping the currency from one blockchain to another, then rebranding it under EONS.
The thread includes other allegations of impropriety on Grey’s part dating back to 2012, though the ALQO incident is the crux of the outrage, and @YannickCrypto linked to a dormant Twitter account that had accused ALQO of being scam in 2019. If nothing else, it’s clear that the outcome of this crypto experiment led to some bitter grudges among those involved.
Grey set to work denying these rumors, laying the blame for this scandal on a former business partner. He pointed to a blog post from the time that laid out how a network member Yannick#0007 — the very same @YannickCrypto — had reported a link between compromised online wallets and one controlled by the partner, who was the CTO and co-founder. According to Grey, the partner resisted any further investigation into these breaches, so Grey fired him on suspicion of theft and refunded users whose wallets had been drained. (The partner, who did not appear to issue any statement after Grey accused him of stealing, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
“Let me be clear,” Grey tweeted. “The accusations against me are 100% untrue.” Two days later, on Wednesday, he published a point-by-point rebuttal of @YannickCrypto’s accusations, noting that he was “disheartened” by them.
Before Grey had even had the chance to defend himself against scamming allegations, however, this drama had been eclipsed by a far stranger one.
Replying to @YannickCrupto’s thread on Grey, a Twitter user called @jcryptooooo asked, “Is this the same dude that fingered a horse?” Crypto shitposters immediately took the baseless insinuation and ran with it, creating a parallel narrative that Grey had molested an animal. Next came the memes and market commentary as $SUSHI, the Ethereum token that powers SushiSwap, dropped in value by 10 percent — though of course it’s impossible to say if it was @YannickCrypto’s “con man” posts or the horse stuff that primarily drove the dip. Commenting on a $SUSHI price chart that implied it was the latter, @jcryptooooo joked that the currency was headed toward a “bottom signal,” the point of lowest valuation where investors can pick up an asset on the cheap before it climbs again.
In Twitter DMs with Rolling Stone, Grey vehemently denies the allegations of animal abuse. “Are you asking me if I ever had sex with a horse or violated one?” he says. “No, the answer is no. I think it was mostly a troll that somehow gained traction.”
Rolling Stone reached @jcryptooooo for comment and confirmed that they had planned to sow chaos from the start. “I was just scrolling through Twitter doing my usual,” they say. “I’ve probably got a higher number of people that have me blocked than I do followers, as I like to call out a lot of the nonsense/bullshit posting I read on crypto Twitter.” When they stumbled on @YannickCrypto’s thread, it inspired them to revive an old gag. “Back when I was younger me and some mates used to joke around when talking about people, ’Oh yeah, is that the same bloke that wanked off/fingered [insert animal]?’ they explain.
“And yeah so it was just a question, and crypto Twitter just nibbled real hard on it,” @jcryptooooo says, adding a clown emoji. “Some of the memes since the initial fingering question have been absolute fire.”
There’s a few likely reasons why crypto Twitter couldn’t resist the bait. For one, SushiSwap was designed as an “evolution” of the decentralized exchange platform Uniswap, which has a unicorn logo. And what is a unicorn if not a mythical kind of horse? Then there’s the anarchic, juvenile, extremely-online spirit of the crypto scene. Contributing to the pile-on, SushiSwap tweeted a horse emoji when quoting speculation that the gossip was elaborate viral marketing. Grey jumped on that tweet as well, quipping, “It’s true; stable pools are coming this week.” (In DMs, he says none of this was a marketing play, and his post wan’t a serious, only a “tongue-in-cheek” reaction to “being memed to death.”) And, in what some have suggested is a rug-pull scam, someone created a new coin called $HORSHE.
“Could only have happened on crypto Twitter,” says @jcryptooooo.
Grey, in searching for clarity on how this all happened, shared an incorrect but amusing theory. “There is a male pornstar with my exact name (it’s been the bane of my existence),” he wrote in the SushiSwap Discord on Monday. “Maybe he defiled a horse?!” In his blog post countering @YannickCrypto’s claims, he repeated this speculation: “The video of the horse fingering, if it exists (I’ve never seen it before), is probably a video produced by Jared Grey, the porn star, and not myself,” he wrote.
A quick glance at the other Jared Grey’s credits does reveal a résumé of porn titles, though mostly with mainstream brands such as Brazzers, which would never illegally produce bestiality videos. Rolling Stone reached out to actor Grey via his Instagram account, but he didn’t respond, hopefully sparing himself the indignity of learning about any of this.
None of which, by the way, is close to the biggest controversy in SushiSwap’s brief history: Right after its inception in late 2020, a pseudonymous co-founder called Chef Nomi apologetically returned $14 million in ether to the exchange after liquidating his stake in $SUSHI, causing a price crash of 73 percent and drawing widespread criticism from users who said he had cheated them. Chef Nomi then gave control of the project to Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of crypto exchange FTX, in a move that would launch the shaky chain of succession that continues to this day. Some time after saving it from collapse, Bankman-Fried also stepped away from SushiSwap, telling Bloomberg in December 2021 that he was no longer involved with the platform.
Despite the latest hubbub, $SUSHI may not be greatly affected in the medium term: the token, as of this writing, is down another 2.56 percent for the day, but remains up 12.34 percent for the week. Just goes to show that in crypto, the more things change, the more they stay the same.