Newly released documents relating to Telegram’s 2018 ICO have revealed some big-name backers, including Russian oil tycoon Roman Abramovich and former Minister of Open Government Affairs Mikhail Abyzov.
The publication of the documents highlighting some of the big-money backers in Telegram’s planned blockchain, Telegram Open Network (TON), is just the latest development in the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) case against the firm, which claims the messaging app violated securities laws by failing to register its 2018 token sale. The names and the amount that they invested were listed in an expert report by Stephen McKeon, a University of Oregon professor who was hired by Telegram to write an analysis on the blockchain project.
Russian oil billionaire Roman Abramovich, who is best known as the owner of Premier League outfit Chelsea FC, invested US$10 million in Telegram during the second round of fundraising. He made the investment via a British Virgin Islands-based fund called Norma Investments Limited.
Another British Virgin Islands-based fund, Batios Holdings Limited, of which Mikhail Abyzov is a director, also invested in the Telegram ICO. Abyzov is currently incarcerated after Russian law enforcement brought an embezzlement case against him in 2018 after his position at Batios was uncovered, thus ending his political career. Jan Marsalek, Chief Operating Officer at German payments firm Wirecard, also invested US$7 million in the second round of the TON token sale.
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Telegram met with the SEC in court on February 19 after months of back and forth between the two parties. In that meeting, the presiding judge urged both parties to consider the “economic realities” of the US$1.7 billion token sale and pledged to make a ruling on the case by April 30—the deadline for the launch of TON as agreed upon by investors back in October. Until then, Telegram is free to continue developing TON.
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