Ex-ZA/UM employees Robert Kurvitz and Aleksander Rostov have made claims that the majority stake in the studio was obtained illegally.
In a Medium post shared November 9 by Rostov, the pair shared that their stake in the Disco Elysium property comes from minority shareholdings in Estonian firm Zaum Studio OÜ.
The majority of the shares were formerly held by investor Margue Linnamäe. In 2021, Linnamäe was bought out by another Estonian company Tütreke OÜ, which the post called a “vehicle for Ilmar Kompus and Tõnis Haavel.”
“As minority shareholders our rights are limited,” the post read. “As long as Linnamäe remained the majority shareholder, we were confident that the company’s financials were in order and that all shareholders were being treated equally.
“The same can not be said for Kompus and Haavel. 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.”
The pair accuses Tütreke OÜ of obtaining control over Zaum Studio OÜ by fraud, and claimed that the money the firm used to purchase the majority stake was taken illegally from the latter.
“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 Ilmar Kompus and Tõnis Haavel with support from Kaur Kender, another minority shareholder,” the post continued.
The post says that Kurvitz and Rostov are in the process of reviewing their legal options, and state that civil claims and criminal charges are “on the table” in the UK and Estonia.
Yesterday, GamesIndustry.biz published a statement from ZA/UM that claimed former senior employees were dismissed due to instances of mismanagement and misconduct, though the studio did not name specific individuals.
The claims were backed up by Ilmar Kompus in comments made to an Estonian newspaper, in which the CEO accused Kurvitz and Rostov of “belitttling women and co-workers.”
Our report also includes quotes from sources familiar with the matter; one described the situation at ZA/UM as “CEO corporate scheming on one side, a toxic auteur on the other.”