As the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Telegram continue their fight over whether or not Telegram offered unregistered securities with its GRAM cryptocurrency, new information is being brought to light on an almost constant basis. The latest discovery unveils part of the group that helped support the billion-dollar sale, and shows that, from politicians to billionaires, there was no shortage of interest in supporting Telegram as it prepared to introduce the Telegram Open Network (TON).
Stephen McKeon, a professor at the University of Oregon, wrote an analysis of the TON blockchain on behalf of Telegram as it builds its defense against the financial regulator’s attack. That report was included in the discovery process of the ongoing case last December, but has only now been made public. In his analysis (in pdf), McKeon includes a list of investor that shows that former Russian Minister of Open Government Affairs, Mikhail Abyzov, and Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich both purchased GRAMs using offshore funds. Additionally, Jan Marsalek, the chief operating officer for Germany-based payment firm Wirecard, also participated in the investment opportunity.
Abramovich controls Norma Investments, Ltd., a fund operated out of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), and is also the owner of the Chelsea soccer team. Through Norma, the billionaire, who made a fortune in oil, gave Telegram $10 million to support TON.
Abyzov is a director of Batios Holdings Limited, another fund out of BVI. However, his involvement in the company is limited, since he’s been in jail since March of last year after having been found guilty by Russian law enforcement for embezzlement. He was still working for the government in May 2018, which is after the Telegram token sale took place.
Marsalek is reportedly behind a $7-million investment during Telegram’s second round of investment activity. Wirecard is also partnered with TON Labs, the startup that helped Telegram develop the TON testnet.
This isn’t the first time investors have been named during the ongoing case. This past January, it was revealed that Micky Malka, a former board member of the Bitcoin Foundation and current partner in Ribbit Capital, and ABBYY Longvo founder and Band of Angels board member David Yang had also participated in the funding rounds.
The judge overseeing the case is expected to reach a decision by April 30, which is the date that Telegram has set for the launch of the TON mainnet. If McKeon’s input provides any substantial weight, Telegram should receive a certain amount of support for the project from the courts.
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