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SOURCE United Capital Partners (UCP)
MOSCOW, April 24, 2014 /PRNewswire/ --
United Capital Partners, the owner of companies with a 48% stake in VK.com, Russia's leading social media site, claims VK's former chief executive officer and founder, Pavel Durov, is attempting to present himself as a political dissident in order to divert attention from his serious legal challenges.
UCP issued proceedings (through two of its investment vehicles) in the British Virgin Islands on April 4 to protect its economic rights and those of its fellow shareholders following the launch of the Telegram application, claiming, among other things, that Durov embezzled corporate funds, breached his fiduciary duties to shareholders and diverted corporate opportunities to himself. Since that case was filed, Durov has presented himself as a victim of politics, alleging that he has been pressured by the FSB and Prosecution Office of Russia to provide information about VK users in Ukraine and Russia. He also claims that VK is now "controlled by Igor Sechin and Alisher Usmanov".
Victoria Lazareva, partner at UCP, says Durov is not a victim of politics:
"The first time we learned of these letters from the Government agencies was when Durov mentioned them online. Durov withheld them for months and, whilst we fully agree that these types of requests present a difficult dilemma for VK, we would expect the company CEO to immediately bring them to the attention of the board. Neither of the two ultimate beneficial owners of VK (UCP and Mail.ru/USM) are controlled, financed or directed by the Russian government or Mr. Sechin, who is the CEO of Rosneft. UCP is a private investment partnership controlled by Ilya Sherbovich, well-known Russian investment professional, and Mail.ru is a public company listed on the London Stock Exchange".
"Durov is attempting to divert attention from his serious legal challenges by creating a political smokescreen. This is pure fantasy and a further example of Durov's increasingly erratic behaviour. He left the company because he was dismissed at the direction of Mail.ru, not for any political reason or with the approval or even knowledge of UCP or its representatives. Durov is not a victim of politics. He is a victim of his own actions, for which we fully intend to hold him to account before a court of law, which in this instance, is located in the BVI and therefore not influenced by Russian politics."
UCP first became aware of the launch of the Telegram instant messenger application last August. In its lawsuit, UCP contends Telegram was founded and developed by Pavel Durov, using VK's resources, while he was a Director of VK.Com Ltd and Chief Executive Officer of its Russian operating subsidiary.
Pavel Durov's brother, Nikolai Durov, is also connected closely with the development of the Telegram application, despite being an employee and Chief Technology Officer of VK.Com's Russian operating subsidiary until recently.
UCP's claim states that the development of Telegram, a highly valuable business asset, has been pursued by Pavel Durov in breach of his fiduciary duties to VK.Com and its 100% owned subsidiary VKontakte LLC. UCP believes that he has improperly diverted to himself corporate opportunities which he was duty bound to pursue, if at all, within the business of VK.Com.
UCP also says that it has evidence that Pavel Durov has embezzled VK's funds during the construction of the ICVA data centre and its related contracts.
Furthermore, Pavel Durov drew a vastly and illegally inflated salary from VK, totalling $6m in 2011-2013. This is ten times more than he was permitted to do, and he also failed to obtain any Board approval for his excessive drawings. His travel and accommodation expenses, charged to the company, exceeded RUB $4.5m.
His behaviour as the company CEO has been also erratic.
Now Durov has attempted to divert attention from these serious legal challenges presenting himself as a political dissident.
UCP Partner, Yuri Kachuro, believes this tactic is a further demonstration that Durov is a victim of his own fantasies:
"This desperate tactic changes nothing. Pavel Durov has embezzled company's funds and created Telegram using VK's funds and resources. Telegram belongs to VK. We will pursue Pavel Durov and all others involved in Telegram in order to have it returned to its rightful home: as part of VK's portfolio."
Notes to Editors
Through two of its investment vehicles, UCP is a shareholder in VK.Com Ltd, which owns, via a Russian subsidiary, Russia's leading social media website "VK". The other owner of VK is LSE-listed Mail.ru Group Limited. UCP controls 48% of VK.Com while Mail.ru Group controls almost 52%.
UCP's claim is against, amongst others Pavel Durov and Mail.Ru Group Limited
UCP is happy to provide comment on any aspect of its dispute with Pavel Durov. Media enquiries should be referred to Nafisa Nasyrova of UCP in Moscow on +74956431100/ Nasyrova@ucpfund.com or Jonathan Hawker of Slate Campaigns in London on +447979907000/ firstname.lastname@example.org
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