Russian private equity firm sues Telegram over failed TON investment: report

Da Vinci Capital has reportedly filed suit against Telegram in a London court, looking to get back the money its investors had put into GRAM tokens that never launched.

In a Monday interview with RBC, Da Vinci's managing partner Oleg Jelezko said that the firm was suing the messenger app. The suit follows a request that Da Vinci made to Telegram at the end of February for a return of funds that got caught up in a legal dispute between the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the would-be token issuer. 

Back in 2018, Telegram managed to sell purchase agreements for $1.7 billion worth of GRAM tokens, which were to be the native currency of the Telegram Open Network. Unfortunately for the messenger app, the SEC issued a cease and desist on the eve of the network's launch in October 2019, beginning a legal battle that would ultimately shut down the network and require Telegram to return $1.2 billion.

Over the course of that legal battle, Telegram's investors faced conflicting and confusing information, compromising their ability to make reasonable decisions with their money, Jelezko told RBC.

Based in Moscow and registered in Guernsey, Da Vinci Capital specializes in private investment in tech firms. Through subsidiary Disruptive Era Technologies, Da Vinci gathered 50 investors and agreed to purchase $72,136,000 worth of GRAMs, ultimately making payments of $45.4 million to Telegram, per filings from the SEC in its suit against Telegram.

Da Vinci's suit has yet to appear in London court records as of publication time. RBC's sourcing says it requests compensation of some $20 million. In his interview, Jelezko said he anticipated other investors joining with similar claims internationally. 

Telegram's legal team had not responded to The Block's request for comment. The number that Da Vinci Capital lists as its London office belongs instead to ITI Capital Ltd. Da Vinci Capital could not be reached for comment.