Investors in Telegram’s TON project are in discussion to sue the company after it abruptly shuttered the blockchain effort earlier this week, according to four individuals familiar with the situation.
It’s not the ambitious project being shut down that upset investors but the options they were given: Take back 72% of their investment immediately, in accordance with a contract amendment from 2019, or loan the funds to Telegram for a year and get back 110% in April 2021.
Telegram spent $405 million from the $1.7 billion token sale proceeds developing both TON blockchain and its messaging app, but those expenditures brought zero value to the investors, said Vladimir Smerkis, head of crypto startup Tokenbox and one of the investors.
“We are considering filing a lawsuit, as the money [Telegram CEO] Pavel Durov spent on the project got investors nothing, while at least, it would be fair to talk about getting Telegram’s equity, for example,” Smerkis said.
In his estimation, about a half of the investors might be considering lawsuits at the moment, and about half as many will actually do it. Three other individuals who did not wish to be named, including another investor in TON and two funds who consulted with such investors, said potential litigation is being actively discussed.
CoinDesk reached out to Telegram for comment on the potential lawsuits and comments by a former employee about the company’s financial status but did not hear back by press time.
“There are funds that are considering a class action against Telegram,” one of the investors told CoinDesk, though he said he does not plan to participate.
Investors in the U.S., Europe and Russia are now discussing these potential lawsuits, he said.
“Many people are upset that the project is over. Knowing Durov’s business acumen, we hoped he would fight for the existence of TON, but apparently the risks he faced exceeded the upside he could get if the project was launched,” Smerkis added.