Disco Elysium legal battle reaches court, centered on alleged €4.8m fraud

Disco Elysium legal battle reaches court, centered on alleged €4.8m fraud

New details about the legal battle between the creators of Disco Elyisum and their former bosses have emerged, as part of a hearing held in an Estonian court.

To recap the story so far: a trio of top employees behind the first Disco Elysium game were fired from developer ZA/UM following the company’s takeover by Estonian businessmen Ilmar Kompus , who is now the boss and majority shareholder of ZA/UM, and Tõnis Haavel, who had previously been convicted of investment fraud.

On the one hand, some staff members – including Disco Elysium game director Robert Kurvitz and art director Aleksander Rostov – have previously alleged that Kompus and Haavel’s takeover was fraudulent and that they were kicked out when they were trying to find out more. On the other hand, Kompus and Haavel claimed the layoffs were because some staff had created a “toxic environment” – and they reportedly planned to leave the studio anyway to try and build a Disco Elysium suite elsewhere. .

Disco Elysee.

A key part of the current legal wrangling now appears to be over ownership of certain sketches – early designs for a potential Disco Elysium 2 – as reported by Estonian newspaper Eskpress (via PC Gamer).

These drawings – apparently of a man wearing a scarf – were reportedly sold for just £1 to a front company owned by ZA/UM’s new Estonian leadership, who then resold them to ZA/UM as part of a deal control of 4.8 million euros. the company. This is the alleged incident that Kurvitz and Rostov have previously called fraudulent.

The suggestion is that Kompus and Haavel had intended this deal to be a stepping stone to selling the company to a tech giant, with Microsoft and Tencent as part of it. But the deal didn’t materialize and employees started asking questions about what was going on in the meantime.

Last month, in an Estonian court, former Disco Elysium executive producer and marketing director Kaur Kender entered the fray. Kender was also fired from ZA/UM, allegedly also for trying to ask questions of his new management.

Kender claims that as a partner of ZA/UM, his dismissal left him without his share of the company – worth 1 million euros. Kender successfully argued that the court should seize the majority stake of ZA/UM held by Kompus to prevent it from being sold and its value being lost overseas.

As for Haavel, Kender claims he has also quietly become involved with a ZA/UM subsidiary that owns the intellectual property rights to Disco Elysium, while also being in debt of 11.2 million euros. This debt stems from Haavel’s past conviction for investment fraud.

When contacted, Kompus and Haavel denied knowledge of the lawsuit. ZA/UM has not commented yet.

Eurogamer has contacted ZA/UM itself and will update as soon as there are further developments.

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