Russian social media mogul Pavel Durov sues ex-partners over Telegram messenger
MOSCOW, June 2 (RAPSI) – The founder of Russian social network VKontakte, Pavel Durov, has filed a suit with a US court in which he accuses his former partners at United Capital Partners (UCP) of fraud and attempted extortion with respect to the Telegram messenger, Vedomosti newspaper wrote on Monday.
“Durov plans to prove that the defendants colluded to steal his companies, Digital Fortress, Telegram and Pictograph, in order to take control of the Telegram messenger,” the newspaper writes. “Durov wants compensation and has asked the court to recognize him as the legal owner of Telegram’s assets. The amount of the damages is not specified, but if Durov wins he will be able to collect treble damages under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act).”
According to the newspaper, Durov first thought about creating a Telegram instant messenger application that the Federal Security Service (FSB) would be unable to intercept in 2011. Telegram’s assets were distributed among several companies registered in different jurisdictions. Durov authorized Axel Neff and Ilya Perekopsky to work on the Telegram project and transferred $4.8 million to them in 2012 and 2013. In 2014, the Telegram trademark, servers and contracts were turned over to UCP.
“Durov claims that no later than in January 2014 Neff, Perekopsky and other UCP partners colluded to defraud him of Telegram using ‘international extortion schemes.’ The UCP partners tampered with Neff and Perekopsky, forcing them to violate their fiduciary obligations to Durov,” the newspaper writes.
Durov’s Telegram messenger has been available in the AppStore since August 2013, with the Android version coming out in September 2013. As of March 2014, VKontakte estimated that it had 35 million active users.
In April, the UCP investment fund initiated litigation in the Virgin Islands to protect its rights for Telegram. The UCP fund wrote in the claim that Durov failed in his obligations to VKontakte because he developed valuable software for separate use while he was VKontakte CEO and development lead. The fund considers itself the proper owner of Telegram and is prepared to protect its rights in court.
VKontakte is a popular Russian social network and one of the country’s most visited sites. Established in 2006, VKontakte boasts approximately 200 million registered users and is more popular than Facebook in Russia. Its audience reaches over 40 million users daily.