Sol Global Chairman Andy Defrancesco sued for Defamation by Cannabis Research Firm: $SOLCF

This story has been updated

A female CEO of a cannabis research company is fighting back against controversial Marijuana investor Andy Defrancesco after he started a twitter campaign to allegedly disparage her company and her personal ethics as a CEO. In the fall of 2018, New Frontier Data, which is run by Giadha Aquirre De Carcer, broke off a business partnership with another data research firm, Prohibition Partners, after a disagreement on the quality of data used in a research report detailing the investment opportunities in the Australian cannabis market. The two companies had signed a term sheet earlier in the year for New Frontier to invest $125,000 into Prohibition and co-publish/co-market their information. The companies agreed to go separate ways in September 2018. Then within a day of each other both companies published a research study called The Oceania Cannabis Report and Prohibition Partners, with the help of Defrancesco, made public statements on their twitter accounts that New Frontier had plagiarized their work and Giahda, the CEO, was a fraud. Defrancesco even used threatening language and images that said his power group of investors were coming for them and New Frontier would be blacklisted among big business in the Cannabis industry.

Andy Defrancesco, the Chief Investment Officer of a publicly traded cannabis company, Sol Global, has been sued for defamation, conspiracy to defame and tortious interference in a business relationship. Prohibition Partners, a company that publishes data analysis reports on the cannabis industry, is named as Defrancesco’s co-conspirator in the lawsuit filed in federal court in South Florida. Defrancesco has said he is an investor in Prohibition Partners along with others he regularly invest with like the wealthy Canadian Serruya family. This isn’t the first time Defrancesco has been seen making disparaging comments to professional women.

The lawsuit says there is a he-said she-said debate over who actually did the research and writing work about marijuana investment and economic opportunity in the Oceania area. Prohibition says New Frontier did no work but they all agreed to create the report together and publish it. New Frontier says Prohibition sent them a draft copy of the report & they responded back with 62 comments for improvement, which included statements that the method for analysis Prohibition used was flawed. During the year the companies were negotiating their business partnership both signed an MNDA. When they broke off the agreement both said they would not use confidential information shared by the other company. Prohibition and Defrancesco have publicly accused New Frontier of doing just that by plagiarizing Prohibitions work product in their report published October 25, 2018 and as a result committed fraud.

After a day of tweets accusing Giadha of fraud and stealing, Defrancesco tweeted on October 26 that his attorneys were ‘licking their lips’ to come after her company and that he’d shut down her future opportunities for investment by ‘notifying every Ibank’ on her alleged fraud.

Andy Defrancesco tweet threat to New Frontier

Defrancesco had also threatened to blacklist New Frontier from doing business with other cannabis companies that included: Aphria, Liberty Health Science, Verano Brands, Prohibition Partners, and many more. Defrancesco has never made public filings that show he personally has a majority interest in these companies which would give him the type of controlled needed to effect who they did business with. So he is either lying about this true ownership control in public companies or is letting the public know he has a mafia-style of influence over the businesses.

Threat to blacklist New Frontier Data

Prohibition tweeted out their own public statements to New Frontier’s CEO saying her work isn’t sophisticated and that she ‘borrowed’ their work and made it her own. Additionally the twitter account for Prohibition retweeted Defrancesco aggressive statements and threats.

On October 26 Prohibition had a Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP lawyer Kevin Cyrulnik send New Frontier a letter demanding the company “immediately cease and desist its alleged misappropriation of Prohibition Partners’ confidential information; and (2)issue a revised press release advising that it will not be releasing the previously announced report”. To add fuel to the fire attorney Cyrulnik also copied the letter, via email, to New Frontier’s board, which included an investor in their business Mitchell Baruchowitz, a partner of the investment fund Merida Capital Partners. When attorney Cyrulnik was reached for comment he confirmed the letter was sent but wouldn’t share a copy of the letter. Additionally, Prohibition never responded for comment on the lawsuit.

New Frontier didn’t comply with attorney Cyrulnik demands, continued to publish the report and presented it at a marijuana conference in Australia. A copy of the report can be ordered, free of cost, on the company website. Instead of backing down, on October 31 New Frontier responded to Prohibition’s attorney saying they didn’t violate the MDNA or plagiarize and made their own cease and desist demands to stop them tweeting defamatory statements. Defrancesco ignored New Frontiers demands and kept tweeting insults and accusation of wrong doing by New Frontier and its CEO. On Nov 8th New Frontier sent Defrancesco his own cease and desist letter. According to the lawsuit, Defrancesco ignored their letter and kept the defamatory tweets up.

A review of Prohibition’s twitter account shows some of their alleged disparaging tweets to New Frontier and Giadha have been removed and all of their retweets of Defrancesco’s tweets are gone. Michael Rudd, of Rudd & Diamond, P.A., will be representing London-based Prohibition Partners. A review of Andy’s account @Defrancesco_A shows most of the tweets targeting New Frontier and their CEO are still public.

Prohibition Partners is now run by a man named Rob Reid. You might remember that name because he is the former CEO of the public company Andy Defrancesco is now chairman of called Sol Global ($SOLCF). A former South Florida lobbyist,Brady Cobb,replaced Rob Reid as CEO. Sol Global list on the Canadian Stock Exchange and trades on the OTC markets in America. Prohibition Partners was recently created and is registered as a corporation in London under the name PP Intelligence Ltd. New Frontier was started in 2014.

The court docket shows New Frontier was having a hard time serving Andy the lawsuit. Several attempts to serve Andy at 2300 E. Las Olas Blvd., 5th Floor Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301 have been unsuccessful. Attempts were also made to other addresses Defrancesco has listed in public filings. So on March 27, Brady Cobb reached out to New Frontier’s lawyers at Lowenstein and Sandler saying he was authorized to speak for Andy. Cobb, who is believed to be put into the Sol Global CEO job by Defrancesco, also has a law license. A text sent by this reporter to Andy’s cell phone asking if he has accepted service of the lawsuit yet was not returned. Cobb is not listed as Andy’s attorney of record on the court docket yet.

New Frontier isn’t without its own controversy. I was not able to get a positive reference on the record from interviews with other industry consultants in the cannabis business on the quality of New Frontier’s work. Additionally, it was pointed out that Giadha appears to be padding her resume. In January a tape recording of a talk she gave at a CannaGather conference in New York shows her saying she is a ‘recovering investment banker’. A review of her LinkedIn profile shows she says she worked at JP Morgan as a junior associate for three years in the late 90s when she started working. There are no FINRA records of her obtaining a license for investment banking. A company profile page see on the of Giadha Aquirre De Carcer said she was an investment banker for JP Morgan. That profile has been changed to take out JP Morgan now. A press person at JP Morgan could not confirm Giadha was ever an employee. An email sent to her attorney to clarify her statements about working at JP Morgan went unanswered. Additionally her attorneys have chosen not to respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

You can read all the alleged disparaging tweets Defrancesco and Prohibition Partners made in the lawsuit which has screen grabs of their twitter accounts (even the deleted ones) here. It includes a photo of a boxer punching that Defrancesco tweeted to Giadha Aquirre De Carcer when he alluded to the idea he was coming for her and she didn’t know who she messed with.

UPDATE 4.18.19 4:50pm: The CEO of Sol Global, Brady Cobb, likes to wait till after I publish a story to comment. Like it’s some kind of game he enjoys playing by not answering a reporter’s tough questions till he sees the tone of the story. Brady just wrote to say he won’t be Andy’s lawyer in this case but he did call the New Frontier lawyers to talk about the case. He says Andy wont comment on the case because it’s pending litigation. I don’t know why Andy can’t just answer that question himself.

UPDATE 4:19.19 6:50 pm: Brady Cobb, speaking for Andy Defrancesco, has told this reporter both parties are finalizing terms to settle the case but no actual settlement is signed yet. It will be interesting to watch if the settlement includes Defrancesco taking his allegedly defamatory tweets down. A review of @Defrancesco_A twitter account shows most of the tweets from Oct 25-26 are still up. Like this one:

New Frontier Data viewed this tweet as a threat

Keep in mind New Frontier Data is silent about this and their attorneys have not confirmed settlement talks. As of 6pm today nothing is filed on the court docket about the case being withdrawn.


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