Telegram and its owner Pavel Durov have officially sounded the death knell for the company’s Telegram Open Network (TON) blockchain platform and its Gram token. But investors and other experts claim that a slew of lawsuits may follow as the company attempts to appease investors who stumped up a combined USD 1.7 billion to fund the project.
Durov took to Telegram to post about his reasons for pulling the plug on the project, berating United States regulators and the American legal system, days after stating that the USA was one of the worst places in the world for tech entrepreneurs.
However, investors have already indicated that they could well take legal action against Durov and Telegram.
Per RIA Novosti, TON investor and Tokenbox project founder Vladimir Smerkis says that “most of the project’s investors want to file a lawsuit against Durov.”
Telegram had previously offered to refund investors for around 72% of their initial stake now or wait until April 20, 2021, to receive 110% refunds, although it later stated that the second option would be inapplicable to United States residents.
Also speaking to RIA, Arseniy Shcheltsin, the CEO of Digital Platforms, opined,
“I think most investors will simply take the money. Some of them will probably sue, while others will wait for further developments.”
The same media outlet quotes a member of the parliamentary committee on Information Policy, Yevgeny Lifshiz, as stating that Durov could, theoretically, still reverse his decision and proceed with the project if he decided to bow to all the requirements of the regulators. This would involve perhaps following in line with Facebook’s revised stance toward regulatory compliance for its Libra project.
However, Lifshiz claimed that this was a near-impossibility, stating, “Durov is known for his integrity, and obviously would not take that sort of approach.”
Other experts opined that Telegram would likely attempt to pay investors back with an offer of shares in the company, while Russian Venture Company’s head of investment Alexei Basov stated that due to the extraordinary nature of the American regulators’ 11th-hour intervention to block TON, investors might find themselves in a “vulnerable legal position” if they did choose to sue.
The head of crypto exchange Huobi Russia, Vladimir Demin, stated,
“Telegram and Durov have always behaved impeccably, so I don’t think that investors will expect any surprises. The most likely outcome is that the compensation packages will be executed as previously outlined.”
Durov’s post, meanwhile, concluded with a warning about bogus TON projects. He wrote,
“You may see – or may have already seen – sites using my name or the Telegram brand or the ‘TON’ [acronym] to promote their projects. Don’t trust them with your money or data. No present or past member of our team is involved with any of these projects. While networks based on the technology we built for TON may appear, we won’t have any affiliation with them and are unlikely to ever support them in any way. So be careful, and don’t let anyone mislead you.”
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