The game director and art director behind ZA/UM‘s Disco Elysium have issued a statement claiming that they were defrauded and ousted from the studio, and are preparing for a court battle with the company owners.
Robert Kurvitz and Aleksander Rostov, who are both minority shareholders in ZA/UM, said in a post on Medium that their relationship with the company deteriorated after Tütreke OÜ acquired a majority shareholding within the studio.
As soon as they became majority shareholders, we were quickly excluded from daily operations, our employment was terminated and our access to the company’s information was shut off. Our firing came weeks after we started asking for documents and financial data, which is still being kept from us.
We have now learned that Tütreke OÜ must have obtained control over Zaum Studio OÜ by fraud. We believe the money used by Tütreke OÜ to buy the majority stake was taken illegally from Zaum Studio OÜ itself, money that belonged to the studio and all shareholders but was used for the benefit of one. Money that should have gone towards making the sequel.
We believe that these actions — which in our view, and the view of our lawyers, amount to criminal wrongdoing punishable by up to three years imprisonment — were perpetrated by [ZA/UM CEO] Ilmar Kompus and Tõnis Haavel with support from Kaur Kender, another minority shareholder.
Meanwhile, ZA/UM has issued their own statement on the matter, denying any accusations of fraud and revealed that numerous employee were fired due to “egregious misconduct.”
While we are confident that ZA/UM will prevail in court once all the facts are heard, we believe it is necessary to address baseless claims and falsehoods, if only to rightly defend ZA/UM and protect our employees.
The rumour that our decision to terminate the contracts of these individuals was taken for financial gain is entirely unfounded and does not in any way reflect the facts. It was a decision that had to be taken for the wellbeing of the collective.
The studio further added that the employees were terminated as a result of neglecting their responsibilities, “including not working at all for almost two years while still being paid by the studio.”