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The Macau traders on this mysterious $ 100 million deli in New Jersey are positive to be onerous to search out

The office building on Avenida Da Praia Grande in Macau, China, is the address for several companies listed as investors in Hometown International, the owner of a single deli in New Jersey.

Catarina Domingues | CNBC

You can buy a real sandwich at this mysterious New Jersey deli – but good luck finding some of the biggest investors in the $ 100 million company that owns only that one restaurant.

A CNBC reporter tried unsuccessfully on Wednesday to track down a group of four investment companies based in Macau, China, who make up the largest group of shareholders in deli-owner Hometown International.

One of those investors – cryptically called VCH Limited – is also raising $ 25,000 a month from Hometown International on an advisory agreement related to the money-losing sandwich seller's efforts to partner with a private company.

E-Waste, a Shell company with multiple affiliations with Hometown International, is also positioned for such a transaction, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

While Hometown International in Paulsboro, New Jersey operates a true Italian deli – albeit a modest one with total sales of less than $ 37,000 in the past two years – E-Waste has no actual business.

Your deli in your hometown in Paulsboro, N.J.

Google Earth

Despite that fact, the market capitalization of both companies has surpassed $ 100 million in the past few weeks as the prices of their thinly traded stocks have risen seemingly inexplicably since last year when overseas investors began to invest in the companies.

The largest single owner in both of the OTC companies is a Macau company called Global Equity Limited, which holds 42 million common shares and warrants in Hometown International.

Global Equity is by far the largest shareholder in a third company called Med Spa Vacations, of which only executive officer, John Rollo, is the president of E-Waste.

An SEC filing shows Hometown International Med Spa Vacations loaned $ 150,000 in February at 6% interest. Med Spa Vacations states in its records that, like E-Waste, it is a shell company with no ongoing operations that is also trying to partner with a private establishment.

Three other Macau registered companies – VCH Limited, IPC-Trading Company and RTO Limited – each hold 10.5 million shares and warrants in the deli owner.

According to the files, VCH Limited, IPC-Trading Company, RTO Limited and Global Equity Limited are located in the same office building in downtown Macau, a special administrative region of China and a major gambling mecca that is less than 60 km from Hong Kong.

Secret in Macau

With the exception of VCH, whose address is on the fifth floor of this office building, the other companies are located on the first floor according to their information in the Macau Commercial Register.

However, a reporter found no actual offices of the entities in the building or any other evidence of this.

Instead, the reporter found the offices of an accounting firm and a related business services firm that appear to act as drop points for the investors and possibly provide other functions.

These other physical companies in the building are affiliated with one of the largest and most reputable law firms in Macau.

Likewise, nowhere to be found were the people identified in SEC filings as their managers and controllers of their stock holdings.

These individuals will also not appear when searching for SEC filings for any company other than Hometown International, E-Waste, or Med Spa Vacations.

The owners of Global Equity, whose registration states that the company started operations in 2016, are listed as two men, Michael Tyldelsey and Ibrahima Thiam.

Tyldelsey is also listed as the managing director of VCH, which was founded in May 2017.

The owners of IPC Trading are listed as Thiam and someone named Lan Moi Lilia. The listed owner of RTO Ltd. is a person named Nathalie Tina Pasaywon.

Submissions show that RTO was created on the same day in May 2016 as Global Equity.

IPC trading went live four months earlier this year.

The office building on Avenida Da Praia Grande in Macau, China, is the address for several companies listed as investors in Hometown International, the owner of a single deli in New Jersey.

Catarina Domingues | CNBC

The riddle of Paulsboro

Hometown Deli, Paulsboro, N.J.

Mike Calia | CNBC

Last Friday, Hometown International denied its market capitalization in an extraordinary SEC filing, stating that neither its earnings nor its assets justified such a high share price. E-Waste issued an identical rejection of its own stock price three days later.

Hometown International's attorney has not returned a request for comment from CNBC on this article.

Not all Hometown International owners are a puzzle – or as much a puzzle – as those in Macau.

Perhaps the biggest public profile investor, Paul Morina, is the CEO and President of Hometown International. He holds a whopping 30.5 million common shares and warrants in the company.

Morina is known in New Jersey high school wrestling circles as coaching the Paulsboro High School team, which frequently wins state titles.

Morina is also a director at Paulsboro High, whose other administrators include Christine Lindemuth, the only other executive at Hometown International. According to the SEC, Lindenmuth does not currently own any shares in the company.

Morina's brother, Carmel Morina, is the elected sheriff of Gloucester County, which surrounds Paulsboro, a small town across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.

Paul Morina has not responded to repeated requests from CNBC for comment in the past three weeks.

Coker connections

Hometown International has three major shareholders based in Hong Kong.

One of them, Maso Capital Partners, founded a NASDAQ-traded special purpose vehicle last year, which includes Hong Kong-based Hometown International Chairman Coker Jr. on its board of directors.

Coker Jr.'s own corporate interests include a financially troubled Macau hotel – The 13 – which originally marketed itself as the world's most luxurious hotel.

The hotel, whose first investors included Steve Cohen's SAC Capital Advisors, Fidelity International and Omega Advisors, has been closed to guests since February 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Maso Capital's senior executives include Manoj Jain, a former managing director of the asset manager previously known as Och-Ziff.

Jain has sole voting and investment authority over the other two Hong Kong investors in Hometown International. These investors are branches of the mutual funds of the two American universities Duke and Vanderbilt.

Jain controls more than 52 million common shares and warrants for Hometown International through the Hong Kong companies.

Last week, Jain became the first person connected to the deli owner to take a public stand in the weeks since he became known for his bizarre stock valuation.

Jain said in a statement to CNBC that he was "very concerned" about "serious allegations" regarding Coker Jr.'s father, Peter Coker Sr., and other members of the Elderly Coker's North Carolina Company.

His comment came after CNBC, alongside Hometown International's accounting firm and the company's first attorney, documented the untidy legal and regulatory issues affecting Coker Sr. – who is a major investor in Hometown International – and individuals affiliated with Coker Sr.

Coker Sr.'s Tryon Capital firm received $ 15,000 per month from Hometown International and $ 2,500 per month from E-Waste for advisory work prior to the termination of these contracts last month.

An SEC filing reveals that Tryon Capital began leasing office space in February to the third company, Med Spa Vacations, which also signed a one-year consultancy agreement earlier this month that pays Tryon Capital $ 2,500 per month.

A company controlled by Coker Sr. called Hometown Global Services is under Global Equity Ltd. the second largest shareholder in Med Spa Vacations. In its annual report filed in March, Med Spa Vacations said there was no revenue for 2020, ended the year with no cash, and posted a loss of more than $ 46,000 for that year.

Unlike Jain, Macau investors have kept Mama amid the controversies surrounding Coker Sr. and Hometown International.

A visit to the offices in Macau

On Wednesday, a reporter visited his legal address at 759 Da Praia Grande Avenue, a 15-story building called Lun Pong.

The building is located in the central business district of Macau and is surrounded by architecture from when Macau was a Portuguese colony. It is five minutes from Senado Square, the hub of the city and part of the UNESCO Historic Center of Macau World Heritage.

The office building on Avenida Da Praia Grande in Macau, China, is the address for several companies listed as investors in Hometown International, the owner of a single deli in New Jersey.

Catarina Domingues | CNBC

The lower five floors of the building belong to Rui José da Cunha, a founding partner of C&C Lawyers and Notaries – one of the leading law firms in Macau – who have their offices there.

None of Hometown International's investors, or any of its managers or owners, are named on the directory in the lobby of the building.

A company called Gestores de Projetos Limitada – or Project Managers Limited in Portuguese – is listed as a tenant on the first floor.

The same floor – the walls of which are adorned with Chinese calligraphy and a painting of the ruins of St. Pauls, a Catholic religious complex in Macau – is the legal address for all Hometown International investors in the city, with the exception of VCH.

GEP provides accounting services for small and medium-sized businesses in Macau.

"Regardless of whether you outsource your payroll tasks or need an expert opinion on an investment opportunity in Macau, we can provide you with prompt and inexpensive support," says GEP's website.

"We also work closely with one of the largest law firms in Macau to ensure your business complies with Macau laws and to assist you with a variety of services, including establishing or appointing and removing directors," it said on this website.

When the reporter asked a GEP employee if he knew anything about Global Equity Limited, the person said that GEP was "providing services to this company," indicating that Global Equity has an address in GEP's office.

The employee then called a GEP partner, Rui Pedro Cunha, who told CNBC he was unfamiliar with the names of the companies known as investors in Hometown International.

Cunha said that GEP service companies who want an address in Macau. These client companies receive mail to GEP which then forwards it to the companies, he said.

"We usually do this with companies that use our accounting services," said Cunha, whose father owns the lower five floors of the building and the C&C law firm.

Cunha said he will look into whether Hometown International's investors are among GEP's clients.

Cunha later emailed CNBC saying, "I can't confirm which company is (or not) a customer of GEP, but when GEP processes and receives email for a company, it becomes GEP forward this safely. "

In response, CNBC asked him to forward inquiries to Hometown International investors and associates so that they can contact a reporter so they can answer questions and comment on this article.

On the fifth floor of the building – the alleged location of investor VCH – is another company called C&C Secretariado Limitada or C&C Corporate Services Limited.

The company provides auditing, bookkeeping, domiciliation and administration services to companies that do not have a physical presence in Macau.

One person in this company declined to comment on CNBC.

– Catarina Domingues registered for CNBC in Macau.

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